A Message From The President

June 2023

As my term comes to an end, I started reflecting on the past year and I thought about the story of the man with four sons:

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So, he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in the summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. 

The first son said, “the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.”

The second son said, “no – it was covered with green buds and full of promise.”

The third son disagreed, he said, “it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.”

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said, “it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfilment.” 

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are – and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life – can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and the fulfilment of your fall. Don’t judge a life by one difficult season. Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.

My term started with conflicting opinions and an impasse regarding the proposed bylaws at the annual meeting.  The process wasn’t pretty and compromise at that moment wasn’t an option.  A few weeks afterwards, the Dobbs decision resulted in the loss of the constitutional right to abortion, abandoning almost 50 years of precedent, and paving the way for states to ban abortion.  While I felt I was on solid ground penning a response to the decision given our position statement on choice, I received immediate feedback from some members objecting to the content and appropriateness of my message.  It was my winter season and introduction to my new role as president.

Thankfully, my spring was just around the corner.  Our retreat in Clearwater Beach, the Career Assistance Grant recipients, and the programs regarding reproductive rights and women in government were the buds of promise for a meaningful year.  For me, the activities and programs demonstrated our ability to directly impact the lives of others and our commitment to elevating the status of women.

As a result of the holiday party, the ERA reception and program as well as the women in health disparities discussion, it was gratifying to feel the collective energy, receive positive feedback, and witness the beauty of Athena Society joining together during social and educational activities, responding to calls to action, and focusing on our founding principle.  Our year was in full blossom as my summer was waning.

My fall arrived as we looked to the future by discussing and understanding early literacy learning gaps and impacts, recognizing the 2023 Young Women of Promise honorees, and chatting about the importance of the arts while in the political crosshairs of culture wars.  The programs reminded me that our Young Women of Promise are full of life and we must continue to strive for fulfillment of our purpose.

So, as I come to the end of my term, all my seasons are up.  This opportunity has afforded me a chance to experience an Athena Society year from a different vantage point.  I now know how it all comes together – it’s not perfect, but we do produce top-quality outcomes.  I’m glad I got to experience the promise of spring, beauty of summer, and fulfilment of fall.  I saw my year bear fruit by getting to know more members, sharing my views each month, interacting in different settings, and working with a great leadership team.

I hope I have led by example and served Athena well this year.  On behalf of the 2022 – 2023 leadership team, I submit our annual report as a summary of our activities and accomplishments.

Blessings to each of you and thank you for contributing your time, talent, and treasure for the betterment of Athena Society.