Well, I'm in the last chapter of The Red Tent and last night I went to see the documentary Commune with a few girlfriends, so it's not surprising that sisterhood is on my mind. Hell, when isn't it? Looking my life over, I can brag about my own hippie roots -- having actually lived in a commune in Hawaii for a time. It was a marvelous tin-roofed tree house, from what I remember. Sadly, I've lost all of the pictures. And my dad's house in Chicago was known as the "hippie crash pad" for many years. Not really a communal thing so much as a laid-back oasis to pull bongs in.
But between the book, which takes us into the biblical story of Dinah and her mothers, and the film, featuring the communal Black Bear Ranch, a hippie-haven sequestered in the Northern California hills, I'm wondering if I'm doing enough to be "in communion" with my own sisters. American culture certainly doesn't encourage communal living or sisterhood, though I still see it as a natural choice for single mothers. Even in Dinah's time, the red tent was thought of as a place where the unclean women went during their moon time and were removed from "real" life. Little did the men know that the red tent was where life was really being lived, birthed, healed, initiated, and sometimes also ended.
What, if anything, is my "red tent?" What is my "Black Bear Ranch?" I would have to say it is the Hipmama online group that I've been a part of for five years now. Through the years, we've welcomed many children, grieved through death, struggled with spouses, ex's, dating and spirited children. They were there for me when my marriage ended. They threw me a "coming out" party when I came to terms with my sexuality. We've held each other through the pain of abortion, the scars of abuse and rape, the bitterness of single-motherhood. And I've grown very close with several women on the list. Together we've grown spiritually, sometimes learning our lessons through the most painful experiences. And some have drifted from us, afraid of our communal power that would FORCE them to change the unhealthy patterns in their lives.
So, here's to community in whatever ways we find it and create it!