Women’s Spirituality Club
Most of us will start the new year with resolutions that won't last. One group of women commits to one goal for the entire year and will hold each other accountable with weekly meetings. It's not AA or a weight loss support group. Kim Riemland takes us inside Evening Dialogue.
(Locator: Ridgewood, New Jersey)
8 o'clock, Tuesday night. Ridgewood United Methodist library. This is where you can find Evening Dialogue .... a women's spiritual growth group.
Susanne Ziskis, Ridgewood United Methodist Church: "We are two Methodists, an Episcopalian, a Roman Catholic and a Hindu."
Elizabeth Hartman, Ridgewood United Methodist Church: "We all bring a different perspective, and that's one of the things that makes this group really work."
Evening Dialogue began 17 years ago as a morning coffee club for women to discuss current events. The time slot shifted to accommodate moms and working members.
Meredith Gnerre, Episcopalian: "I was sucked in pretty much from the beginning."
Helene Feldkamp, Roman Catholic: "The age divide is so wonderful. I cannot tell you what I learn from the young people that came in the group."
Vishakha Dixit, Hindu: "We just share our feelings, we share our thoughts."
One woman grew up in India, another in Austria &ellipsis; different lives with the same focus &ellipsis; one intention each year.
Meredith Gnerre: "We live in the Northeast and everybody's just always tightly wound. It's nice to have something that we stop and we think about one specific thing."
Helene Feldkamp: "It changes you when you really focus on how you can become a better person."
Members have studied topics like simplicity, gratitude, attentiveness, forgiveness, kindness, hospitality and prayer.
Elizabeth Hartman: "We had asked Vishakha if she would do some praying."
Vishakha Dixit: "We still have very fond memories of it. And now, everybody when they say 'oohhmm' they know what it means."
Last year, they departed from tradition and studied the book "Half the Sky" detailing oppression against women and children. The group reacted by creating Ridgewood Cares, a festival of opportunities with 63 non-profit groups, photography exhibits and interpretive dance.
Susanne Ziskis: "Our new topic maybe should be Sabbath rest."
In 2011, the group plans to study the Sabbath and possibly have a silent retreat &ellipsis; another milestone in a spiritual journey together.
Elizabeth Hartman: "This group has seen me go through from being a single person to getting married to now, having a child."
Vishakha Dixit: "We have gone to lots of weddings together, showers together, funerals together."
Helene Feldkamp: "I lost my husband four years ago. I'm not quite sure how I would have gotten through all that without my three people, four people."
Susanne Ziskis: "&ellipsis;but always undergirded with the sense that we are here to be spiritual sisters."
Ridgewood Cares continues to host a Facebook page to encourage people to join the fight against oppression. More information about the church or Evening Dialogue can be found at www.ridgewoodumc.net or by calling 201-652-2868.
Posted: January 21, 2011