“These things do we earnestly desire:
A clear vision of life, that with gracious and kindly hearts we may share both joy and sorrow and bring into living reality the Sisterhood of women. An appreciation of real merit and worth, steadfastness of soul, that without bitterness or defeat we may encounter misfortune and with humility meet success. These things, O Lord, help us to instill within our hearts that we may grow in courage and graciousness and peace.”
That is the Symphony of Alpha Xi Delta, a women’s fraternity that I joined more than thirty years ago.
This weekend we had our bi-annual girls weekend retreat where about 12-20 of us gather at someone’s house in a central location and enjoy a couple days reconnecting. Over time, we have all changed. New jobs, new partners, new homes, new kids, kids going to college, divorces, loss of some we have loved. So many things have changed through the years, yet so many things are the same. We still laugh until someone has to change their underwear. We stay up too late. We still share our greatest joys and our deepest heartbreaks. We still drink too much and eat until our stretchy pants feel too tight. We reminisce about our college days and talk about how we are lucky we survived some of our bad decisions. We celebrate our joys and we generously dole out big hugs and an empathetic ear when life sucks sometimes. We are lucky. We are surrounded by a group of girls who don’t judge…no matter what. None of us are perfect…not even close. We all have very different lives in different parts of the country. Yet we are all sisters, family who are connected in some magical way over space and time.
I’m thankful for my husband who, despite my responsibilities at home, was insistent that I make the trip. He worked double time doing the chores in my absence. He got up at 6 am to go to a volleyball tournament an hour away. He made sure my car was packed up with everything I needed and he stayed up the night before baking bread for me to bring. What a blessing to have someone who recognizes the value of this time with my girlfriends.
This retreat is almost spiritual for me. It is a time where we unplug for a couple days. It’s always hard to get away from our daily responsibilities. I think we all struggle a little the week before preparing our families for the time we are gone, worrying how life will carry on in our absence.
It’s always chaos at the beginning…figuring out who’s sleeping where and with who (yes, we still bunk up together). Then it happens…the decompression, the letting go. It is a time of trust surrounded by the girlfriends that love us.
As the weekend is winding to a close, I’ve been reflecting on a few of my take-aways from this time with my sisters:
Laughter is so good for the soul.
It’s smart to have a solid stock of panty liners available when said laughter ensues.
A circle of trust among friends is sacred.
Cards Against Humanity requires Google if you’re over 40.
A girls’ weekend just isn’t complete until someone snorts.
When you find your people, never let them go.
Be thankful for low maintenance friends. Miles and years can pass by yet when you get together, you pick right up where you left off.
There is a wealth of knowledge to be shared when a group of smart women gather together.
You can whip up a helluva meal in just a few minutes when these twelve women are in the kitchen.
A good game of reverse charades is therapeutic.
People our age aren’t really great at taking selfies.
Hugs and “I love you’s” should be given out with reckless abandon.
You should always dance in a circle when “Heartache Tonight” comes on.
When we were in college, we always ate dinner together on Thursday nights and before each meal, we sang Grace. As we stood around the kitchen this weekend, and sang the words together, I had chill bumps on my arms, tears at the back of my eyes and a heart full of love for these women. I’m forever grateful for my time at Arkansas/Lyon College where I began a lifelong journey with these beautiful and strong women who have helped shape me into who I am today. And as the Symphony of Alpha Xi says, “with gracious and kindly hearts we may share both joy and sorrow and bring into living reality the Sisterhood of women.” Thankful for this beautiful living reality. Cheers ladies. I look forward to our next adventure.
Alpha Xi Thursday Night Grace
Be present at our table Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
These mercies bless and Grant that we
May feast in fellowship with thee