real elders


I was blessed to sit in circle with indigenous elders this weekend at Women of Spirit and Faith‘s Alchemy conference. It was an unexpected gift I had been longing for all my life. Not knowing much about the gathering ahead of time, I did not know I would get such an opportunity. As I sat with them, I found tears streaming down my face, as I was filled with the poignant joy that it was to simply sit with and share council with true elders such as are so rare the anglo culture.

It was a spiritual transmission simply to sit on the grass with these women. Completely in service, they showed me by example how to be in accord with the true purpose of the gathering. They were so grounded, each of these women, like a grounding rod driven deep into the earth. I found myself in awe, deeply humbled by the dignity I saw in their faces. Oh, the longing I felt when I saw that dignity, to become a real elder like them. Perhaps an impossible task for someone of my cultural background and perhaps not. Certainly not an easy one.

My friend Sheila Belanger says she likes to imagine a bridge between herself and the elder she would like to become. Spending time around these women feels like it makes the bridge stronger. It leaves me with a much-needed imprint of how to listen and learn from someone as well, while being set free to use my wings at the same time. So often we have the experience of one or the other. But in being around these indigenous elders, I saw that to listen deeply and receive wisdom in humility is actually to be given wings to fly. The imprint of how to do this will stay with me always. I will carry it into the relationships in which my independent streak has made it hard to be receptive.

As for the Grandmothers, I will be seeking them out. I will be sitting at their feet. Why? Because I feel like a human being when I do.


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