by Leigh Perry, Upsilon Lambda (U of Texas – San Antonio), Rituals, Traditions and Jewelry Committee)
There are times in your life when words simply aren’t enough… or when they actually desert you.
It doesn’t matter if you are extremely articulate or well-written. There are times when you are so surprised or astonished by a situation that the emotions are so intense, they actually threaten to overwhelm you. You intrinsically understand that this moment has the potential to actually change the entire trajectory of your life.
It may be something amazing like being honored with a valuable award or prize, winning a championship, accepting your bid, your initiation day or a proposal of marriage. Or it may be something devastating like the loss of your home or the death of a cherished friend or family member.
I recently experienced this with the death of a dear AOII sister, Mary Jane Bell Sharp. Initiated into our fourth chapter, Omicron, in the late ’40s, Mary Jane was truly an extraordinary woman. Among her numerous accomplishments, she was the first female Fulbright Scholar award winner at her alma mater, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She served AOII in various alumnae roles because the Founders personally asked her to. However, for me, her most important “achievement” was serving as my mentor.
It wasn’t intentional; it happened the way many mentoring relationships do. We served on a committee together, we roomed together at a weekend retreat, we visited when I traveled for work to her town. She shared amazing stories. She taught me by example about aging gracefully. She helped me understand that in AOII, the most important thing we do is teach life transforming skills: how to value each other; how to be supportive of each other and welcome the support no matter our age; how to love AOII and all AOIIs; how to live our motto.
In this era of divisiveness, the focus becomes our differences instead of what we have in common–mainly that we are simply at different points on the continuum of life as AOIIs. While those of us who are more seasoned offer discernment, experience and wisdom, we risk becoming stodgy, out-of-date “has beens” without the energy, enthusiasm and excitement of our younger members. And they, in turn, need the balance we can offer.
For the AOII centennial celebration in 1997, Ann Cushing Gant created a mixed-media “painting” called Reflections of Sisterhood that was available as a print to members. It reminds me daily that although our perspective changes through the years (as does our experience of AOII and as an AOII) our values have not changed. Our commitment to “be that friend” has not changed nor has our promise to our Founders and our future sisters.
Stella shared, “It is a profound delight to know that into the very friendships we shared in girlhood have come closer ties, kinder consolations, higher encouragements, truer joy in living because our early aspirations ideals and purposes have grown larger with mature understanding-with more to share.”
Our Founders’ transformative friendships have the power to change the entire trajectory of your life. Value it. Live it. Share it.
For anything Ritual-related, please feel free to contact RT&J at firstname.lastname@example.org.