Witnessing

Thursday, July 12th, 2012 25

I started my last post by questioning where to begin. I have a better answer to that question now that more than a week has passed since I was on the beautiful coast of Oregon with my circle of kindred spirits for our second Tribe retreat. It’s taken me some time to process our time together as I immediately visited dear friends and then attended the World Domination Summit after saying goodbye to my Tribe sisters. I’ve now had the space to journal about our retreat and reflect on both my experiences and the collective one we shared.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the themes of building, deepening, and strengthening. Those words very much capture what we did in terms of our relationships with one another, as well as our commitment to our group, this Tribe. And as I reflect on those themes, they sound rather intense. They don’t necessarily seem like the words that spring to mind when you think of a group of 8 creative women heading off to the beach for a few days. Rather, you might think of words like wine, laughter, art projects, and shopping. While those words are true of our time together, our Tribe is so much more than that.

As I described after our first retreat last year, when a group of women come together with open hearts and courageous souls, MAGIC happens. This sentiment remains 100% true. In my reflecting on the Tribe this past week or so, I’ve given some thought as to what this magic is, as well as how and why our time together is beyond the simplicities of laughter, wine, and a good time at the beach. And here’s what I’ve come up with. The Tribe is about WITNESSING. Witnessing is about being present at or for. It is to have personal knowledge of. It’s about giving public affirmation. Witnessing is to see. And that is exactly what the Tribe is about — to see one another fully, to give witness to each others’ experiences. Moreover, the Tribe is about allowing and opening ourselves to be truly seen.

The Tribe and our time together is about truth-telling, listening, holding space, empathy, compassion. It’s about hearing each others’ stories, and accepting and holding the emotions that accompany those stories. It’s about reminding one another of our enough-ness, AND gently pushing each other toward our dreams. It’s about sharing “this is how I see you.” More than anything, the Tribe is about vulnerability, authenticity, and wholeheartedness. While our time together is a retreat from jobs, families, and the laundry-list of responsibilities we each have, it’s a complete dive straight into the emotional soup in our hearts, a turning toward the sensitive parts of our souls that need tending. And, we also celebrate our accomplishments, our starting close in, our steps toward our aspirations, and our trust for the process.

This Tribe, these retreats with one another, are sacred. Sacred space and sacred time together. It’s sacred because it is so rare. I personally don’t have many spaces in my life where such witnessing occurs. Where such vulnerability is safe. It’s beyond unusual to let our guard down so earnestly and completely, and allow ourselves to be truly seen and open-heartedly see others for who they really are.

We are very rarely “all in.” And with the Tribe, I’m definitely all in and I know my Tribe sisters are too. I’m grateful I took the chance to create this group. I’m grateful that each woman said “yes.” I’m grateful that each of us shows up, really shows up, just as we are, and gives their heart to be held by the rest of us for those days together. I’m grateful for each of us who were willing to take an extraordinary leap of faith, and who continue to do it each year as Tribe, and each day as Self. xoxo

You can read more reflections on the Tribe and our time together from my sisters here, here, and here. I also hope this post and the others that we have written encourage you to find or create your own sacred community. This is not about and in-crowd or an out-crowd. It’s about each of us finding our kindred spirits. We all belong.

25 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    Love that you came to the word sacred. As you point out, I have so few things in my life that I can deem as such – and I think there are very very very few people who have the opportunity to share what we have shared. Funny because as I was typing this comment, I accidentally misspelled “sacred” as “scared.” Oh, the irony. I don’t think we could have sacred without scared. Love you! xxoo

    • Meghan says:

      I love that you transposed “sacred” and “scared.” Not a coincidence! Glad you find our space as sacred as I do. xoxo

  2. rebecca says:

    This is lovely. I think you have really distilled our time together into words in the most simple and perfect way. It IS sacred, and rare, and something to be so grateful for. I’ve never seen or felt anything like this group we have, and I just can’t imagine having missed this opportunity. Thank you my friend for being brave and creating this for all of us. I hope you inspire others to do the same. 🙂

  3. Oh Meghan, you have hit the nail on the head with this one. I feel like you took what thoughts I was feebly grappling with in my own post and brought them to full fruition. You have captured the inherent paradoxes that I was struggling with all weekend — which are really what I struggle with every day, simply magnified — and I especially love this line: “It’s about reminding one another of our enough-ness, AND gently pushing each other toward our dreams.”

    For the me, the biggest gift of this group has been being surrounded by women who dared to say “yes.” I spend so much time with people who hem and haw and can’t ever quite seem to commit to anything. To be wrapped in the energy of YES! is incredible.

    As I think more and more about this year, and what it meant to me, and all of us, I feel like there is a clearer, collective sense emerging about what our group IS. And I think that will inform and shape next year’s sacred time together.

    I love that Emily transposed “sacred” and “scared.” I recently transposed — twice — “insight is my cure” with “insight is my CURSE.”

    • Meghan says:

      Thank you for your kind words, E. I have been searching for the words to describe the fun we have but also the rich emotional soil we wander together as Tribe. And I’m with you about being with women who embrace that “YES!” It is incredibly energizing. And I love your transposing of “cure” and “curse.” I can definitely see both! xoxo

  4. Celina says:

    I think the words: building, deepening, and strengthening are exactly the way to describe this year. We have built a wonderful foundation for Tribe and only through our deepening relationships will in continue to strengthen. Because of the level of vulnerability we allow this magic really does happen. It does sound intense because it is intense – in a wonderfully sweet way. I could not imagine the same magic happening with a different group of women.

    That photo makes me swoon. 🙂

    • Meghan says:

      I’m happy you love that photo, Celina. It may be in my top 5 faves of my Polaroid shots. Thanks for being in it and making it what it is. xoxo

  5. Corinna says:

    So glad you have this time and this sacred group of kindred souls to walk with. Sounds beyond lovely.

  6. Sarah says:

    Beautiful post, Meghan!! I love the idea of witnessing (and the many meanings that that term conveys) and think it captures the essence of the Tribe. Thanks for putting these beautiful thoughts into words. Much love! xxoo

  7. Melissa says:

    Not only did you find a way to capture with words what we’ve all been grappling with these past days, but I think you picked the perfect photo to illustrate it all (of course!). I love that image of two friends, sisters, Tribe members holding hands, supporting each other as they stand strong and stare into the future. I love how the fingers are so intertwined that they might be from one hand, showing how our spirits have blended and how we have become something different, new and better because of our connection to each other. I can see that shot on the front page of our… blog, book, short film, magazine…. whatever it may be! Love you and the happy tears this post has inspired!

  8. Sophia says:

    Each account I read of the Tribe’s time together brings new moments of “yes, exactly!” and yours is no exception. Your words are helping me find my words as well as giving shape to some of the work I need and want to do to better myself and take full advantage of the precious gift that is our Tribe.
    xoxo

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