The signs throughout the auditorium say, 'severe weather shelter.'
Tropical storm season approaches, so I'm glad of the structural soundness around me (especially when the stage starts shaking) but that's not why I can't stop looking at the signs.
I see the sign and I hear Bob Dylan, "Come in, she said, I'll give ya shelter from the storm."
We are each but tiny vessels in this ocean of motherhood. The ocean is vast with possibility and breathtaking beauty. But it is also unpredictable and can rock us ways we couldn't have imagined. And when storms come in this ocean, there seems to be no inherent shelter. Nothing can prepare us or protect us from the moments of anguish, helplessness and rawness in motherhood.
But I come into this place and I know, instinctively, inherently, something that women used to know when we lived tribally, when our men hunted or went off to war; we are each other's shelter.
I tell my small story of a bug bite and have friends say, "I couldn't have killed it," or "I wouldn't have been so calm." To which I answer, 'of course you would have, because motherhood kicks in.'
I believe that, but I hear your stories and wish I had Allison's joy, Mary's grace, Jen's faith, Glenna's compassion, Kerri's humor, Ann's resolve, KeAnne's wisdom, Laura's whole-hearted love, Erin's courage, Marty's insight, Alice's honesty and Beth's passion. No way I could be so amazing, creative, intuitive!
And yet I can see each of you telling me, of course you could.
Motherhood shows us sometimes in painful and stark ways that we are capable of much more than we could've dreamed. But somehow, somewhere along the way we forgot that we have umbrellas, islands, rudders, oars and sails in each other.
We come together and we are shelter, support, direction and strength for one another and for those that need to hear that they are not alone.
When we leave this auditorium, this severe storm shelter, after telling our stories for the last time together, I will never forget this vulnerable moment when you were all my shelter and support. I hope I remember all the strength I've gleaned from you and the lessons I've learned so I can move forward and be a shelter of compassion, understanding and love for everyone I encounter.