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We begin in silence. Always in silence - letting the attachments of daily life drop away and to discover together the open sacred space among us.

Women's Spiritual Community. The heartbeat of my life. I would not have found my way into a male-dominated profession to become a minister; I would not have "heard myself into speech" for those prophetic life moments; I would not have claimed myself as woman, feminine, sensual, sexual - without a women's community.

My women friends are committed to one another and to our circle. My women's spiritual community has taken many shapes over my career and the eight women in the circle, currently, came together about 10 years ago. It was women's community, in another form, that got me through seminary and helped me to define myself.

Women. Spiritual. Community. Each dimension important. Using the language of "spirituality," we ask each other the questions of the deepest sense of Self and the union with the greater Whole. The language of spirituality offers a container, a culture, a long-held ancestry, an expansive way of being.

A sister in the circle asks "Who is it in your life, Lynn, that will tell you the truth about yourself?" These questions clarify and invite the sharing of my deeper sense of vulnerability in relationship. Thank you, Kim!

On another day, another member asks, "Who will hold your being, Lynn, when your Spirit weeps?" Compassion for my Self, and care for sadness and grief in my life. Thank you, Susan!

When I shared a challenge with a mentee in spiritual direction, another sister asks: "Have you prayed for her before meeting with her?" and "Can you say you love her, Lynn?" How do I bring my Self, my soul to relationships that engage me? Thank you, Connie!

Women's spiritual community. It's the heartbeat of our lives. This is the place where we share our soul longings and where we seek more love and compassion within our relationships. Our circle gives support and accountability woven together in a sacred space that asks us not to fix one another or to evaluate one another, but to be together in an intentional, open way that offers space for the soul to show up.

Lynn Scott is a spiritual director and lives in community at ARC Retreat Center near Cambridge, Minn., a spiritual center welcoming individuals and groups. www.arcretreat.org

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