from Kim Hill, Nashville Treehouse, co-founder
I just got off the phone with my sister. I was in first grade when she was born and remember making her a Valentine a few days after she was born. We don't talk as often as I wish we did, but I called her today to pick her "Martha Stewart" brain. One thing led to another and when I hung up an hour later, I was reminded that I’m not alone in my struggles. Even though we didn’t solve the massive problems of the world and our stuff pales in comparison to the real crises in the world, I felt a lot better than before I called her.
We cried 😭and laughed😂 about big and small issues that we’re both having right now, especially mine. As I thought about why I felt better, it was pretty simple …. my sister heard me. She genuinely cared for me. She empathized with my pain. She reminded me of the good she sees in me. She was a safe place. She didn’t share any little platitudes with me or tell me how to fix things. She listened. She promised to pray. She gave me time today in the midst of her busy day.
My sister and I are very different, possibly polar opposites in many ways. She holds different political and social views than me, but instead of arguing about those, we respect each other enough to focus on our shared values and relationship. Even today, in this vitriolic climate where families and friends are being split apart, none of that even came up.... we put our relationship ahead of it all.
We’ve shifted out of our primary roles as a "Mama" and are redefining what that life looks like with young adult kids. We're finding ourselves moving closer to role reversals with our own Mother. We’re changing lifelong family traditions. We're concerned about our futures. We're learning how to trust God with our adult children's choices. Not to mention all of the real crises pressing on us from outside the walls of our homes.
At The Nashville Treehouse, we believe one of the best things we have to offer every woman who comes to one of our events is a place at the table among sisters. A table where you can be real and honest about what’s really going on your heart and life. Not just with empty nesters like me, but women like Paulette dealing with loss of her Mother and finding a new way to relate to her dad and brothers, or women who are “still single” but long to be married, women suffering with cancer or taking care of a loved one who is, the list goes on. We all have disappointments and loss and when it’s shared, our burdens get lighter.
The feedback we hear the most from women is that sitting around the table with an amazing meal and great glass of wine has been some of the richest, most healing time they’ve had in years. Just getting "to be” with other women.
In light of the political climate that has polarized most of our Facebook walls and even our families for the past year, many of us are weary. Many are earnestly seeking a new way to operate instead of resorting to the negative news and hateful arguments that we are bombarded with daily. Some of us have allowed the world around us to divide us in ways that have damaged our own hearts and the hearts of others. We’re so conditioned to see things as “good/bad”, “pretty/ugly” or “smart/stupid” that we’ve lost the ability to even discuss ideas or viewpoints with respect.
At The Treehouse, we're joining with others who believe that it’s time for some new language, possibly a whole new way to talk to each other…. to listen to each other…. to hear to understand, not just to reply. A way to treat every human with the dignity and respect they deserve because they are made in God’s image. We’re reading books, attending workshops, hearing from leaders and focusing on ways to be stronger internally for the days ahead. As our world and country are in unprecedented turmoil and many paradigms are shifting, we want to do what we can to be part of "diminishing suffering and elevating joy."
In light of this, we’ve created some “tiny winter weekends” at our new Treehouse. Since our beginning in 2013, we’ve had a motto (that we “borrowed” from a Ryman Auditorium poster) saying “All Are Welcome”. It’s the core of our heart for what we hope to offer to women like you who may not feel truly safe in your corner of the world.
We want to invite you to take a break. Sit with us at the table and around the fire where you are welcome to share your questions, your fears, your struggles in a space without judgement. We’d love for you to join us as we struggle together to find a better way of living in this crazy world.
We’re not afraid to say we don’t have all the answers, but we would love to be with you on a little part of your journey and encourage you along the way. In the end as Ram Dass says,