One evening per month, a small group of friends and I gather in my living room. We start with silence and end with conversation and dinner. I’ve come to love this gathering. I also have an online morning circle that I meet with, a small group of wise women scattered throughout the country.
I credit midlife and the pandemic for calling me into these communities. The desire to gather might partly be due to isolation, especially during the first year of Covid. But this yen is more than an urge to re-people my life. I want a supportive and accepting circle, where everyone truly belongs.
What is true belonging?
When Toko-pa Turner writes about “false belonging,” she names the spaces in our lives where we may stave off loneliness but not find authentic connection. She says:
Our longing for community and purpose is so powerful that it can drive us to join groups, relationships, or systems of belief that, to our diminished or divided self, give the false impression of belonging. But places of false belonging grant us conditional membership, requiring us to cut parts of ourselves off. . . to fit in.
Our wider culture is something I’ve written a lot about lately, primarily for its narrow, youth-oriented standards for women. Naturally midlife women can begin to feel invisible or alienated if they sense they no longer meet the standards of membership. This can happen sometimes in workplaces, religions, and even families and friendships. True community welcomes us—the changes and cycles of life—with open arms.
Midlife is not a time of dawning irrelevance. It’s an initiation into greater wisdom, authenticity, power, and joy. Research shows that women “continue to develop their strengths and actually bloom, rather than fade” in midlife and beyond. In this study, happiness and life satisfaction (for both women and men) increase each successive year after age 47, peaking at age 82.
The truth of midlife and aging is lost on our culture, so fostering new community becomes essential. I’d rather not shoulder this transition alone through self-sufficiency, self-realization, self-improvement, and self-care. In this season of life, I’d rather lean on and learn from other women. It’s more interesting and fun to do it together. Plus, wisdom that arises from a group is always larger than anything I could come up with alone.
I recently read a quote attributed to Grace Lee Boggs, Chinese American civil rights and labor activist, who hung these words in her living room, the place her own circles gathered. “Building community is to the collective as spiritual practice is to the individual.” We need more than our meditation mats to get through life. We need a circle of support and wisdom around us too.
Join our wisdom circle.
Green Callings will be hosting its first online wisdom circle for midlife women, a safe space for deep truth telling, listening, and belonging. If you’ve yearned for the support of community, please join us! Learn more about the wisdom circle here. Registration is now open.