08 March 2007

International Women's Day

Today is a day to celebrate women. All women. Pretty cool, huh?

To honor women in general, I would like to thank one woman specifically. I chose someone outside my family because inside is just too easy. I have fabulous women in my family - my entrepreneurial Gramie Janes, my heart-of-gold mom, my beautiful and talented sisters, my Aunt Elva (who wielded an axe quite literally).

Mary Hill was my teacher of A Course in Miracles for 7 years. She taught the class consistently twice a week for over 20 years, steadfastly moving forward as the Course gained and lost popularity and her class swelled and contracted.

We met once a week and spent two hours sitting on hard chairs, reading a hard book and talking. She had fabulous posture and looked like a Queen Mother sitting at the end of the table closest to the door, greeting everyone who came in.

She didn't mind if one person showed up to learn or 50 did. Her ego wasn't involved, which makes perfect sense. The Course is primarily a class in listening more to your heart than to your ego.

She also didn't mind if people asked tough questions, rude questions, got angry, were cynical. The Course could do that to people. She took them where they were. If they wanted to come back, she was happy to see them.

If they stormed out, baffled by the Course and its convoluted wording and conflicts with traditional Christianity, she wished them well and sent them on their way. Half the time they would stumble back a few months later, ready to learn some more.

Her actions matched her words perfectly. She didn't gossip, didn't get involved in personal drama. She prepared, she showed up, and she was open to whatever happened.

Just by being who she was, Mary Hill helped change my life. Under her care, I finally started to shed my cynical, mean shell and to open up to other people a little. When I started the class, I was at my lowest point, crying myself to sleep as I cursed God and life.

Her calm, steady presence helped me to leave that all behind and look for a brighter future. I am not even sure how it happened.

For that, I truly thank her, because for a little while there, I couldn't think of a single thing to live for and a future didn't really seem possible or probable.

She made it all look simple. If I could boil her philosophy down to a few words, it would be: Show up. Pay attention. Work hard. Do the work that is right in front of you. Love everyone as much as you can. Give good hugs.

Mary Olive Hill, rest in peace. Ok, that's not really likely. My guess is that she is improving heaven some way right now, and doing it with really, really good posture.

Happy Women's Day.


Carolie said...

"Show up. Pay attention. Work hard. Do the work that is right in front of you. Love everyone as much as you can. Give good hugs."

Wow -- so simple and so profound. Thank you.

anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anne said...

Outstanding tribute. Terrific advice too! A good idea, this, sharing with us a woman who made a difference in your life. I think I'll take up the torch at my blog. Thank you!

Lynnea said...

Such a person in one's life is in itself a miracle I think. How wonderful. I love the boiled down philosophy too. I'm going to remember that.

jess said...

How nice! She'd be happy, and proud, I'm sure.

claire said...

oh how sweet!

sounds like an admirable woman. it's great to have someone like that to look up to, no matter your age.

thanks for sharing.

FENICLE said...

What a beautiful tribute. Thanks for sharing!!

super des said...

I love that woman. Happy women's day!

Anonymous said...

A friend/mentor/teacher who doesn't gossip is gold.

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