February 25, 2007

My virtual red tent

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!

1 comment:

vegan.mama said...

I'm a bit biased, but the hipmama group is definitely our red tent! We may not live in a commune and we may not sequester ourselves from men/society/whatever, but it's our 21st Century equivalent, no?

A few years ago - when I lived in the 'burbs and felt so isolated - I never thought I'd have the group of friends I have in the hipmamas. How serendipitous that we've all found each other! And how interesting that we love each other so much, despite our differences and the ways our personalities clash (at times). In the past, I often felt jealous of my parents and the neighborhoods they inhabited - the pinochle games and the block parties every summer - because I thought that type of community was unachievable in contemporary suburbia. Imagine my surprise, then, as we continue to foster those social networks in the middle of the third-largest city in the U.S. :)