Looking for a Withmate? (by Rachelle Mee-Chapman)
In the circles where I live and work and have my being, I hear the same three longings on endless, aching repeat.
- > A desire to have a spiritual practice that is genuine and authentic to the person practicing it.
- > A desire to include feminine ways of knowing and creative impulses into that practice.
- > A desire to not feel alone in that practice — to have a soulful tribe.
I believe that being withmates to one another can move us into places where we complete all of these desires.
What is a Withmate?
“Withmate” is the gender-inclusive term I’ve come to use to describe what Margaret Guenther calls a “midwife to the soul.” In Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction, Guenther reminds us that, “The literal meaning of the word [midwife] is ‘with-woman,’ that is, the person who is with the one who is giving birth.” When you expand the metaphor of “birthing” to include giving birth to a new kind of spirituality, the idea of being withmates to one another resonates with possibilities.
What does a Withmate Do?
- > Is present to another in a time of vulnerability, working in areas that are deep and intimate, in a relationship of trust and mutual respect.
- > Does things with, not to the person giving birth.
- > Invites questions and takes time to engage with them.
- > Sees the event she is assisting at as a natural, normative event–not as a ‘crisis of faith’ or a sickness.
- > Notices times of transition and realizes that – even though painful – they are a sign of breakthrough and progress.
- > Encourages another when they feel out of control or that they have failed. Redefines progress, success, and failure in more functional terms.
- > Tells you when to push and when to hold back, when to breathe deeply and when to do something shallow.
- > Rejoices in the arrival of that which was working to get itself born.
What about you?
- > What might get born in your life with more ease and support if you had a withmate?
- > Who has been a withmate to you in the past? What did they do that was helpful?
- > Go on an imaginary journey where you are following a leader. Now go on a journey where you are traveling beside a withmate. What’s different?
- > Who has been a good traveling companion for you? What did s/he do that made them a good withmate?
- > Looking for a withmate? Who can you be a withmate to? (Pay it forward and watch the Universe meet your needs as well.)
Rachelle Mee-Chapman is a spiritual director specializing in “care for creative souls”. She works with visual artists, writers, musicians, chefs, and other folks who are unlocking their creative core. Join her Flock or follow her at www.magpie-girl.com.