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#20444 Hanna McPheron Chapel Talk

Good morning.

You know when you read a sentence in a book or finish a poem and can’t stop thinking about it? Or you hear a friend say a certain phrase and it’s so impactful, their words continue on a loop in your thoughts? To be honest, this happens to me often.

So with that being said, I recall an evening I spent on Junior Beach several summers ago. As I watched the sun dip behind the Adirondacks, I read a poem from Rupi Kaur’s “the sun and her flowers”, page 226

how do I shake this envy?
when I see you doing well
sister how do I love myself enough to know
your accomplishments are not my failures
– we are not each other’s competition

For days on end I continued to think about this idea. Why do I see my friend’s accomplishments as my own failures? Why do I believe myself and a fellow sister cannot both succeed? How can I view my female peers as teammates and not competitors?

With these thoughts in mind, I’d like to share another Rupi Kaur poem, page 241

our work should equip
the next generation of women
to outdo us in every field
this is the legacy we’ll leave behind
– progress

In the spring of 2018, I returned to my college alma mater for our alumni soccer game. I adored returning to the campus and was thrilled to reconnect with my female classmates. Back again with all my old teammates, we shared where our lives had taken us since we graduated two years prior. I listened as friend after friend shared their achievements beyond our time at school. One friend shared her recent acceptance into a graduate program in Sweden, several people spoke of new and exciting job prospects, and another woman told us of her recent acceptance into the Peace Core. With all this information, I suddenly felt immensely overwhelmed. And without meaning to, I spiraled into a range of negative emotions. Guilt, sadness, confusion, anger. Questioning: Why hadn’t I accomplished all these things? Were my friends better than I was? Why wasn’t I on the “right track” to get that job? And I simply believed maybe I had failed. I returned home the next day feeling puzzled. I was excited for my peers but didn’t know how it reflected back on myself.

Now, listen to this, Rupi Kaur, page 213

i stand
on the sacrifices
of a million women before me
thinking
what can I do
to make this mountain taller
so the women after me
can see farther
– legacy

As girls we are raised to see each other as competitors. Convincing ourselves another woman’s accomplishments are my own failures. That somehow there is only one seat at the table for women and we must compete, bringing others down to elevate ourselves. Rupi Kaur’s poems sparked a question for me: What if instead of spending time bringing other girls down, we invested time and energy in loving and supporting one another? What kind of world could we create if women only showed each other kindness?

Now here at camp, we practice the values of supporting our friend’s accomplishments and ambitions each and every day. You can see it in nights we spend in Mimi’s Lodge, how we cheer on our peers in Wednesday and Saturday Night Shows! And in the way our community values sportsmanship and teamwork, as seen in our High 5 award.

Rupi Kaur extended a hand, letting me explore this theme of women and girls supporting each other. It began a dialogue for me: How can we shift the way we think about each other to encourage one another instead of competing?

We can begin with our camp community, every day reminding ourselves the importance of positivity towards our friend’s accomplishments, supporting every girl’s ambitions, and, finally, remaining kind not only to others but to ourselves.

And with that Rupi Kaur page 231

there are mountains growing
beneath our feet
that cannot be contained
all we’ve endured
has prepared us for this
bring your hammer and fists
we have a glass ceiling to shatter
– let’s leave this place roofless

Thank you.

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