I have a friend named Emily. Whenever I am around her, I feel like I need to put my sunglasses on because light literally beams out of her. In case you can't imagine what I'm talking about - here is a photo of Emily on the left and sunlight on the right. I am taking the time to explain this because I know the resemblance is so striking it would be hard to tell the difference if I didn't caption it very clearly.
Emily is the kind of friend that just unexpectedly comes into your life on a Saturday morning when you are speaking about homelessness at a Rotary event. In fact, that's exactly how it happened. She smiled at me with her 50000 megawatt smile and said, "Let's keep in touch."
Daughters, in these kinds of Saturday morning events, people say things like that and hand you business cards a lot. I knew Emily was "fo real" because she didn't only say it with her mouth - she also said it with her eyebrows - and because I learned from a young age to take eyebrows very seriously, and because I am part tree and am naturally drawn to sunshine, I did keep in touch.
A few mornings ago we got together for coffee. Emily is not only brilliant like the sun, she is also very, very smart - and I try my best to keep up as she talks about very important things - politics, food security, and local economics. I allowed the waitress to fill my cup a second, third, and fourth time hoping that the extra caffeine would magically help me to keep up with Emily, her beaming sunlight, and everything her eyebrows were telling me was important. Books, films, people, conferences....
Needless to say, my brain was relieved when our conversation moved in a direction I could really understand. Some might say a lower level, but I'd prefer to say a deeper level.
Of course we talked about the online debates of about cultural appropriation. And we talked about the interconnectedness of all living things. We talked about the significance of the world wide voyages and intergenerational communities.
And then I talked/rambled about leadership and Magic Mic and shining the light on others and Emily said, "And that's what we need to do as women - pour light into each other's buckets".
And I put my cup of coffee down and got real quiet because - whoa - we were in church. #preachitsister
I thought about a recent conversation I had with a friend who had experienced a really hurtful and personal accusation made by a colleague. I asked her if she thought that experience had changed who she is. She quietly said, "Yes.", the pain still evident and heavy in her reply.
I thought about my own experiences with betrayal - times where my heart was wide open and someone took advantage of my vulnerability. We all know the pain. We all know the loss. We all know the hardening of ourselves that so often follow those experiences.
Cue this scene from Moana.
"They have stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you.
This is not who you are.
You know who you are."
Daughters, your power and magic as a woman goes far beyond creating life in your belly. You hold the power to not only give life through physical birth, but to give life every day to those whose life-force has been stolen. As women we are called (and the call isn't out there at all, it's inside me! And you!), and when we answer that call and pour light into one another and restore hearts and life and creativity and trust and mauli - that's when we are most power-full. And when we engage in restoration of hearts and souls, people transform, and communities - like Motunui - flourish.