A Sense of Unity: Grace Baranowski, Diocese of Indianapolis
Being invited to attend the 56th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is a blessing that I could never have expected. I knew that we’d hear powerful stories from women from rural areas around the world and then discuss obstacles to their empowerment. I knew that I’d learn more about how the United Nations worked with NGO and government partners to address these issues. I knew it would be a time of personal learning and growth. What I did not know was how remarkably welcoming the community would be at the UNCSW.
On the opening day of our participation in New York City, we all filed down into the UN Chapel for our first day of worship. Two women acted out in interpretive dance the daily routine of women separated from clean, drinkable water. We sang a simple African chant and listened to an opening message. Then, the pastor invited us to approach the wells set up around the chapel and bless each other. What began as slightly out of my religious comfort zone—drums, chants, and interpretive dance—became something wonderful and welcoming. We all filed up to one of three wells set up around the chapel and washed our hands in the water, before clasping hands with our partner and kissing their cheeks or hugging them. I saw women’s smiles break into grins as the sense of warmth grew in the room. Soon after, we formed a circle around the chapel’s perimeter and each sang one note in harmony with our neighbors. It was electric.
The UNCSW community was welcoming in a quieter way, too. On Friday night, after a long day of traveling, the Episcopal Young Adult Delegation gathered in a room of our hostel to share dinner and greet each other for the first time. At the end of dinner, we all participated in the compline, a short series of prayers and psalms to bless the end of the day. People that I had known for only an hour joined me in repeating the words that I’d known since childhood. Even though we were little more than strangers to each other in that moment, we relied on the Episcopalian community to draw together and worship at the end of the day.
This sense of unity was apparent only after a few days. I can only imagine how unified all of the UNCSW participants will feel after a week of discussing these issues so close to our hearts.
Filed under: UNCSW