I know that I am not alone in counting the friendship of other women as holy. They have been living icons, showing me both God’s strength and tenderness.
The sitcom “Parks and Recreation” introduced a new holy day into my personal liturgical calendar: Galentine’s Day. In the words of character Leslie Knope, “Every February 13, my ladyfriends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”
Celebrating a Modern Feast Day
In that spirit, for the last four years, I’ve gathered as many women as I can round up for tacos on February 13th. Most of these women do not already know each other. This is not a clique. In addition to a few old friends, I’ve invited social media mutuals, women I’ve met at protests, other parents from the drop-off line. And they’ve come.
These are women who show up. These are women who are brave enough to join strangers to talk about the risks and griefs and successes of their lives, and to set joy loose amongst themselves.
Gathering the Kingdom of Heaven
I believe this is what the kingdom of God looks like. Remember when Jesus told the parable of the rich man who held a wedding feast, and when no one responded to his invitation, the man told his servants to gather anyone they could find (Mt. 22:1-14)? That’s how we best gather community. Not by particular invitation, but by casting a wide net of those willing to come and love together. (Note: unlike the parable, we don’t turn anyone away for dress code violations.)
Everyone is welcome at this table.
What Makes a Saint
Galentine’s Day is a high holy day for me because it’s a living saints’ day. As creedal Christians, we believe in the communion of saints. That means we look to everyone from Hildegarde of Bingen to our coworkers in order to see how God is working in the world, and to see the image of God more fully. I love historical saints, but they sometimes grow dusty in our imaginations. The women around us, when we put time aside to pay attention to them, are sparks of inspiration in the middle of their messy, complicated lives.
Because a great deal of women’s work historically has been unpaid and unchronicled, Galentine’s Day attends to a sometimes-hidden sacredness. We restore our hope by witnessing one another’s lives.
Sacred, Everyday Holiness
I know that I am not alone in counting the friendship of other women as holy. They have been living icons, showing me both God’s strength and tenderness. While I go out for tacos this week, I hope you are also thinking of the women who make your life holier, braver, more interesting, more loving. If you can, celebrate them this week. Bring them together to multiply their joy and courage. And please- tell me about them in the comments!
Di McCullough is a trained spiritual director and healthcare chaplain, and is currently working as a totally untrained parent of a kindergartener. Her personal liturgical calendar is significantly bigger than the traditional one, including days for saints like St. Molly of Austin, patron of journalists and St. Tony, patron of explorers and storytellers. She cherishes a broad understanding of the sacred. Di lives with her husband and son in Columbus, Ohio.