But the physical space (WE LOVE IT!) of the Women’s Center is only part of the story. A room, or a program, is not automatically a context for discussing and hearing one another’s stories. That context includes what we might want to call interpersonal space, a space that we have to build between two or three or more people. That space consists of history, of relationship. It can open, or close, in response to our mutual activities; it can expand with our listening, care, attention, or contract with neglect. It supports its own language, a language that recognizes the personal meanings that attach to words, expressions, gestures, responses. In that space, in the relational space created between friends, co-workers, classmates, we can hear one another’s stories and tell our own.
Perhaps all change does happen through conversation, as my church newsletter reminds me from time to time. If so, that change has something to do with the change in the world — the interpersonal space that constitutes the world in which people actually live — that takes place in the very act of conversation. Or, at least, that can take place there, if we build the place for it to take place in between ourselves in that conversation. We don’t always.
According to our mission statement, the Women’s Center at LPTS “exists to work for equality and dignity of women in all communities, including religious professions, for the unveiling of the continuing oppression of women of all races and nations, and for the building of community locally, nationally and globally.” It sounds big. It is big, and we are small. But the interpersonal, relational space we are building — between friends, colleagues, classmates — including the remarkable classmates of the Class of 2009 — is large, and growing larger. And it is in that new space that this vision, and this mission, really take place.