I have always been curious about Isabel’s Prayer Group, a group of six women that call themselves the Sisters of Perpetual Disorder and that has been meeting every two weeks for almost thirty years.
I asked the women what their friendship means to them, and below you’ll find some of their responses. I pretty much had to lie on the floor for a while afterwards, their answers moved me so much. I took Nora, my eleven-year-old daughter, when I visited the group to take this photo, hoping she would be as inspired by these friends as I am.
Valerie sent me this:
I joined the group when I moved back to California after four years on the East Coast. In the Prayer Group, I hear about manifestations of the Divine Feminine in the midst of mundane tasks, like walking the dog or making soup.
I love this circle because it’s so generous and accepting: we talk about everything from our white-knuckle moments of frustration to our sips of grace. We share our hopes and dreams in the same breath as we acknowledge all our comic imperfections.
Everything in the circle is confidential. Nothing is censored. We can talk about our losses or frustrations without having to “get over them.” Each woman is bright, polished, and unique: and I marvel at our collective strength.
I have been blessed, rebuilt, and rekindled by this circle, the times I’ve needed it the most—after cancer, a cross country move and a heart-rending divorce.
There is always good food from sushi to champagne for a special celebrations, a moment to “check in,” followed by a soulful question. Then we enter a deep space, with a bell and candle, and end with round of gratitude and prayer.
As we tidy up, one of Isabel’s stories is sure to make us laugh.
Pauline wrote about spirituality:
This circle is the most deeply spiritual experience I’ve had in my life. I expect these friends to be with me until I’m gone, witnessing every passage of my life, and often imbuing the challenges and gifts of my days with layers of meaning that were there but hidden from me.
I don’t personally use the word prayer–for me, it’s meditation, presence, witnessing, love, intentionality, grace, mystery, the ineffable.
If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that is enough.
And Carole sent this note:
When you love someone and they are in pain or jeopardy and you feel helpless to do anything, here is something I can do. I can join with my sisters, pray for them, hold them in my heart, and lift them up with the help of this soulful, powerful circle.
As I lamented not having a similar group of my own, Isabel reminded me that the writer Jean Shinoda Bolen, one of the founders of the Sisters of Perpetual Disorder, wrote a book called The Millionth Circle that will inspire anyone who wants to start a group like theirs, or strengthen a circle that already exists.