Tastes of Resilience

When women gather in circles to listen deeply to one another, healing happens. When the subject of the sharing is resilience, the stories reveal how we find our way, and help each other through whatever is ours to face.

For a few months now, I have engaged with groups of women, aged 55-80, who came together to explore the meaning of resilience in their lives. Some admitted they never thought much about it, but were curious to learn more. Some came with stories of personal storms so powerful that their witness to living through them emboldened others. Some came with questions that had no answers.

What does it mean to prepare for something you don’t know will happen? What have you found when you tapped into inner resources of mind, body, and spirit? What is ours to do alone, and what is made better in community?

What strikes me so far from these discussions are a few things.

We have lived lives that make us stronger and more courageous than we realize. Realizing and claiming the ingredients of our resilience takes a pausing to see what has gotten us to where we are. Our “recipes” for resilience require adjusting as we age: the low-fat low-sugar version might suggest more surrender and less muscling through. Practices or disciplines can sustain us; we learn from one another how and why to commit to ourselves, so we can commit to others.

Don’t underestimate the power of story to unite and heal. As one woman, turning to another across the circle, said: “I couldn’t claim that I knew this quality in myself until I heard you speak. And then I said to myself, ‘YES.’”

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