This past Saturday, I was invited by a couple of my friends to a ladies luncheon at Brio Tuscan Grille, which is ridiculously good if you haven't had it. The creme brulee alone is enough to send your eyes rolling into the back of your head in pure, unadulterated bliss.
I, of course, decided to go. I got to buy a new dress (burgundy was the theme), and got an afternoon away from the kids to spend with women who are decidedly some of my favorite people on the planet. Sylvia and Dawn, you know who you are.
I had no idea what "The Divine Keys" were, but I expected heavenly food, great conversation, and a good cause; we'd all lugged in canned goods to support a food bank, after all. But I was unprepared for the absolute delight of a lunch spent in the company of women who believe in what they are doing.
The Divine Keys, "is a concept, not a social group," says Celeste Salgado, the woman behind the annual luncheon. She started the event seven years ago, so that women could get together to share aspects of their lives to help each other grow, nourish each others' spirits, and uplift one another with kindness, praise, and heartfelt warmth.
Outside of this past Saturday, I'm not sure I've ever been at a lunch that does exactly that.
A trio of singers started the lunch with gospel songs that had nearly everyone up on her feet. When we sat back down and dove into our meals, a presenter, a high-powered sales rep, spoke eloquently about weaving her marriage back together after it had come unraveled. Another presenter, a woman in the C-suite at a banking institution in Tampa, lifted the entire room in praise as she told the story of waiting on God's timing for everything in her life from her studies at Brown University to her bold career moves to her recent marriage.
I sat in awe at the power of these women's words as they spoke with such vulnerability and passion, and was humbled by the way each of them opened herself up to the rest of us without fear.
At the end, when the emcee asked each of us to peer into our little golden gift bags to reveal which "key" we were to focus on for the upcoming year, we uncovered things like "Health" (which was mine), "Dreams," and "Break-throughs." These little challenges were the perfect way to end the lunch, and personally, I was glad I pulled the health key, especially considering the way I'd devoured most of that creme brulee.
To date, the Divine Keys has blossomed, tendrils spinning off from the main vine with offshoot clubs for runners, book divas, marriage groups, and charities. In fact, while we were at the lunch, those responsible for charity asked for donations to help support two teenage girls who'd aged out of foster care and were living alone.
To say I was blessed by this luncheon would be an understatement. I felt encouraged, warmly welcomed, and inspired to get out there and do something good for someone else in this world.
And if that isn't divine, I don't know what is.