The name Cindy means “woman from Mount Cynthos or Kynthos” (from the name Cynthia) or perhaps, “light” (from the name Lucinda). When I looked up the origin of the name, I expected something a little more dramatic like “woman who empowers, equips, transforms, liberates.” Two of my closest friends are Cindys. Their combined bios include titles and descriptors like CPA, M.Div, MLS, artist, storyteller, librarian, cardmaker, VW engine rebuilder, cook, clavichord builder, mother, theologian, wife, singer, reader, mystic, host, Christian, and friend. Both Cindys have changed my life and empowered me to do things I was too scared to do.
The first Cindy in my life handed me a black pen and colored markers. When my “C-minus-in-Art-self” panicked and almost ran from the room, she opened her kitchen drawer and asked me to choose an interesting object. “Trace around it,” she said, “and when you’re finished, keep going.” In that moment, she set me free to doodle, draw, and color with the tools of an artist–no skill required.
The second Cindy nudged (forced, actually) me to incarnate some of the daydreams in my head. “Wouldn’t it be fun if you told a story and I danced it?” I mused out loud. In my cowardly mind my “wouldn’t-it-be-funs” were always just fantasies not possibilities. The next thing I knew we were performing in front of a woman’s group. My fantasies almost always became realities when voiced in front of Cindy. “Wouldn’t It be fun to lead a workshop together on storytelling and dance?” Bingo! We were on the program of a large Christian Ed conference.
Both of my Cindy relationships feel like experiences of Christian community at its best. The body of Christ verses in 1Corinthians 12 come to mind. When I didn’t seem to be hearing any direct God messages of freedom or vocation or renewal, the Cindys became my divine encouragers with hands and feet and voices. They helped me to see myself anew and to behave in new ways.
I’ve been thinking about them during my monastery week because there is physical evidence in my room of their influence. I go almost nowhere without my markers. My first Cindy gave me the tools and the permission to pray in color. My second Cindy is no longer on this earth. She died about five years ago of ovarian cancer. But when I first came up with the daydreamy idea of spending a week at a monastery, I could hear her slightly impatient voice, “Pack up the car, sister, and hit the road.” One of the things she always packed in her car was a small vase. “Fill it with local flowers; it will brighten up your room.” My vase has lilacs and colorful weeds.