There was a time, not so very long ago, when we more or less expected that our lives would continue to unfold in ways that were in accord with our plans and wishes. We knew that we would perhaps have to contend with events not planned by us, but we could in most instances, push such thoughts into the background. As we know very well by now, much of that has changed.
Thanksgiving Day this year has brought us to a stage in our lives in ways none of us anticipated. Not only is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting us locally, but indeed the entire world has been rocked by this calamity, an upheaval such as none of us has ever experienced.
This pandemic has already inflicted enormous suffering all around the world, and as we know all too well, the end of this tragedy is not in sight. Affliction, perhaps ironically, also presents us with opportunities to rise to the occasion, and possibly also in unexpected ways, to flourish. We may have discovered new ways of responding, both in our own lives, but also toward each other, and to those whose path might not have crossed ours previously.
We know that under these circumstances, businesses and organizations have found new ways of communicating. The performing arts, for example, have provided us with new and innovative ways of reaching out to us, thereby keeping up their own spirits and ours as well. In our own personal lives we may have focused on projects that had been dormant for a long time. And who has not heard of grocery shelves being stripped of flour and yeast, along with baking powder. These items had in short order become precious commodities. In many instances individuals and families were suddenly spending much more time in their own homes than they had for a long time, and in doing so, found a new interest in baking and cooking.
The significance of the United Nations International Day of Rural Women observed annually on October 15th has more relevance today than ever before. We are encouraged, on this day, to recognize how vital the role of rural women and girls is, not only in improving and sustaining rural households, but also, by extension, their communities. In addition to that, they also perform countless unpaid tasks both in their homes as well as in their contributions to agricultural production.
The women of Rosengard, modelled these attributes throughout my childhood and youth, thereby setting me an example of how to live. They had learned through hardships and challenges of various sorts to make the most of the conditions under which they found themselves, and to use the resources that were available to them within their particular life circumstances.
These women provided support for each other, be it in bringing homemade noodle soup to nourish a mother after childbirth, or indeed, acting as midwife. They also knew how to share gardening ideas, or surplus produce.
My mother and the other women of our community recognized the importance of sustaining each other by means of spending time in each others homes for Nähverein, an informal gathering for spiritual encouragement and social engagement. It afforded an opportunity to take a break from countless tasks. It also meant that the hostess could prepare and put out her best baking for Faspa in the company of her friends.
The website of Women Deliver states that "Supporting the health and rights of all girls and all women creates a positive ripple effect for everyone — lifting up families, societies, and economies."
I have no doubt that the Women Deliver Conference of the 21st century would agree that the women of my childhood community achieved that goal admirably.