When I think of gathering, there are two immediate reference points for me about my faith life.
The first is the quiet strength I imagine with two or three faithful supplicants coming together, the soft murmur of prayers buzzing in my ears even as I read the verse, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).
The second is women gathering daily at the well to draw the water that they and their families needed to survive and thrive. In that image, I hear a cacophony of the sounds of women —bursts of laughter, welcoming calls, singing —joyful, exuberant, mixing together, ebbing and flowing, the sounds as beautiful as a fine symphony. The nourishment these women received coming as much from the life-giving water, as from the gift of gathering.
Every time I read those passages, the neurons in my brain light up with the significance of the symbolism: the water as nourishment, the well itself as a touchstone for community and the vessel of that life-giving water, and the beauty, power, and strength of women of gathering.
This message is an excerpt from the president’s letter by Margene Thompson in the South Dakota Synodical Women of the ELCA’s spring newsletter.