It was the sixth time doing the same Woman Initiation Ceremony, but every year it’s different.
The first time, the small group of ten sat in a quiet semicircle, were initiated into the rite of passage, and met only two other times before their Crossing Over Ceremony! Last year, our largest class of twenty-six sat in rows with mentors behind them and alumnae ready to serve tea and cake. Our initiation celebration was followed by five meetings, and then a huge Crossing Over Ceremony at a new venue!
This year’s class of fifteen was initiated with their mentors and alumnae. The excitement was palpable as we invited them into Presidents’ Hall and guided them to their seats.
Each woman introduced herself and stated why she’s doing Woman. They smiled as they listened, already realizing the commonality they share, not only as Nyack College students, but also as women on the journey of womanhood. Their relationships will be deep.
The ceremony begins with a candlelighting that symbolizes the light of Christ and the union of our journeys for this year as we focus on what it means to be a Christian woman. We pray that God would guide us.
Perhaps my favorite part of the ceremony is when the leaders and the alumnae tell their own story about when they named themselves women and truly understood themselves as such. We leaders speak and tell our stories a little differently every time. And then the alumnae, some who are serving, and some who are acting as mentors, tell theirs as well. What rings out from those who participated in Woman in the past, is that being a woman is not about fitting into boxes. No, it’s about becoming who you were created to be. It’s about discovering who you are in the context of four relationships: with God, yourself, others, and creation, and moving forward in the way you were always designed to move forward.
One of the alumnae just graduated last year, one participated in Woman the year she turned forty, one has gone on a journey of physical and spiritual health which has involved the loss of weight and the gain of healthy eating, exercise, and self-talk habits. All tell their journeys of transformation in different ways. Last year, one alumna even stated that she wouldn’t be in her current job that she loved if she hadn’t done Woman.
This year, we plan to meet monthly, and participants will read a draft of The Book of Womanhood, meet with each other, and participate in various activities between our meetings. May this bring transformation for all of us as we continue on the journey of womanhood!
The Book of Womanhood will be published in November by Cascade Books, and I am so happy to think that the metamorphoses through a rite of passage that have occurred in our community will soon bring hope to many others! It is my dream that groups like ours would spring up in various parts of the world as we come together to become who we really are. To God be the glory.