Outside the clouds hover relentless in their attempt to keep the sun from shining. Yet, it’s still unusually warm for this February morning. Inside chairs form a circle beside the fireplace. Bibles, notebooks, and coffee fill the hands of those gathered. The living room of the cabin in the woods is spacious enough to fit 20 of us for a day-long retreat. One by one we grab our snacks and drinks and find a seat. Some perch in front of the roaring fire, the warmth on their backs. Others sit comfortably on the couch making room for one more. We all gaze outside to the pond and trees.
The peace of the water and trees outside begins to seep into us.
We begin with a song.
Here in this place the new light is streaming, now is the darkness vanished away; see in this space our fears and our dreamings brought here to you in the light of this day.
The voices of women join together. No longer only young and old, working or retired, overwhelmed or rested, we are all one in our breathing and our singing.
Gather us in, the lost and forsaken, gather us in, the blind and the lame; call to us now, and we shall awaken, we shall arise at the sound of our name.
I feel myself relax as I listen to the voices. I know singing is good for you, I know community is good for you, but in that moment of voices rising as women, I feel more powerfully this goodness.
I feel the light of the moment.
The light may not be shining outside today, but I know it’s there. I don’t need to see the sun, the light shines among us. The new light streaming in comes from each woman gathered this day. The new light streaming can be heard in their voices – voices that are soft and loud, voices that are uncertain and sure, and voices that desire to be heard. Voices that are stronger together.
This is our light and our hope – our voices joined as one.
Not in the dark of buildings confining, not in some heaven, light years away – here in this place the new light is shining, now is the kingdom, and now is the day. Gather us in and hold us forever, gather us in and make us your own; gather us in, all peoples together, fire of love in our flesh and our bone. (Gather Us In, Evangelical Lutheran Worship)
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller