We had a wonderful time cooking, serving, eating, and talking over breakfast in the Women’s Center with 16 or so alumnae Monday morning. It was great fun, we got lots of ideas – and some lightbulbs went off, at least for me.
Breakfast wasn’t uneventful. When I called to say I was on my way but would be a little later than expected, Courtney (our Student Coordinator) announced that the cooks had blown a fuse (I’m not talking about mood, but electricity — apparently, this is what happens on the morning of an event when two coffee makers, two stove burners, and the oven are all going at the same time). Johanna called Doug from Facilities, who performed some timely technical miracle in the basement to get the electricity back on line, in time for the event. (Thank you, Doug! It’s thanks to Doug, too, that ALL our pictures and the impressive tapestry from the old space are all in place on the walls of our new space (WE LOVE IT!) just in time for the Festival of Theology – many thanks!! We look thoroughly official and like we are going to stay for a long time, which we hope is true.)
While I don’t want to make the invitees who couldn’t make it, for one reason or another, feel worse than they already do, I need to say that the menu was outstanding; it featured a breakfast strudel made by Johanna Bos, as well as assorted pastries and bread, fruit salad, yogurt, orange juice, the indispensable fairly traded coffee, and sausage for the observers of the Noahic dispensation (kidding). [I could not help noticing that we could still use some plates and serving dishes that will save the earth, by being washable rather than disposable. We’ll keep working on that!]
The “program” was eating breakfast, sharing conversation, and talking a little about the Center and what it’s doing – in other words, very informal. We did have a grand tour, led by the Acting Director, who as usual enthusiastically showed off all the closets, as well as the other attractive features of the New Space [WE LOVE IT!] It’s abundantly clear that storage space used to be a problem. No more, at least until we expand even more. Our admiration for the new space seems to be shared: there were lots of oohs and aahs.
But with the oohs and aahs come heightened expectations. Beverly Brock, Class of 2000, commented that with the new layout, large room and at least two smaller rooms, three if we could use the office, we have a good set up for a plenary gathering with breakout groups – something that might make for a nice alumnae gathering, getting women alums together to share experiences and wisdom from the front lines out in the post-seminary world. That sounded like a good idea, and one to pursue further with the Alumni Board and Alumni Relations.
Of course we talked about money, since money is always on our Women’s Center mind. But as another alum mentioned, money has often been on women’s minds, and often in the context of not having that much of it, and so needing to “maneuver” [the word that came up] with the resources from sidelines and special efforts and sequestered. Women have historically found ways to generate woman-controlled funds [“her egg money”], to foster projects that aren’t actively opposed, but also aren’t embraced and supported, by the husbands or fathers or administrators who control the published budget. Maneuvering is what people [women, and others] do when they are “off budget.” The main problem with such funds is that they tend to be small, and labor intensive. Making egg money involves tending a lot of chickens.
But what struck me as most personally important was that the Women’s Center became the place for one of those epiphanous moments when the promise of something that is still really at an early stage of growth, that is still just starting out, becomes briefly visible and tangible. Here was a room full of light, on an almost spring day, sun shining, the smiles and laughter and words of bright, promising, wise and experienced women flashing and sparkling and magnifying one another. It was a room full of joy, in a kind of togetherness that we don’t always have in the dispersed places to which we, or those with whom we live, have been called and work day in and day out. It was a room suddenly full of meaning: what it means for women to be together, to share ideas together, to affirm one another and one another’s work, to nod in recognition of experiences, to appreciate something that we might not have had, but do have, and are glad we have.
Pointing towards something more, that isn’t but that could be, that we are still working our way towards . . . That made it very much “a foretaste of the banquet in the heavenly realm . . .” Thanks be to God.