Most who know me are aware that writing is my passion, bliss, life blood, heart beat and sanity. It is the primary way that I communicate with world. It is also my means of retaining memory of what has happened in my life; anchoring in my experiences, lest they slip away. A few hours ago, I left the company of soul friends, new and longtime. I had attended the MKP -USA Gathering of Elders in my backyard of New Hope, PA. The acronym was USAGE which to me, has a few meanings. One is U-SAGE (claiming that role full out as wisdom keepers and sharers), another is Use-age (we are still useful as we age). At nearly 55, I am proud to bear the title of elder and call myself a seasoned woman. Men and women traveled from all over the country, two whom I met, from Canada and another from the U.K. We each brought our unique sense of life that came from at least 5 decades of experience. This event was born of the ManKind Project and those who attended were part of the New Warrior and Woman Within communities. I attended the Woman Within training in April of this year and describe the experience as “heart being blown wide open and I still find some pieces of shrapnel lingering.” All these months later, new insights come popping up daily and I sometimes don’t recognize myself. Some of the weekend, the women were doing our healing work while the men were likewise engaged and then at times, we would work together.
I was asked to speak there a few months ago, but had made other plans by that point. I was ‘supposed’ to be out of the country, leading a retreat, but clearly Spirit had other ideas for me. Rather than teach, I attended as a participant and felt no need to be ‘on.’ The keynote speaker for the weekend was Grandma Aggie (Agnes Baker Pilgrim) part of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers who travels world wide speaking on healing the planet and all life on it. I was asked to take on a role that I feel blessed to have filled, that of chauffer and tour guide for her and her daughter Nadine who travels with her. Cleaning out the back of the Jeep so as to accommodate suitcases and a wheelchair, I was excited at the opportunity to be in their presence. At 89 years old, she now has 5 generations of her family that are living and thriving. Her way of speaking is straightforward and compassionate, determined and loving. She challenged us to be aware of our purpose , have faith, believing in ‘something higher than our heads,’ ask for assistance from ancestors who have crossed over, leaving with our cups full, passing power to each other, as well as walking in truth and balance. I found her to be funny and approachable. On the day I met her, she was wearing fringed buckskin which I can imagine would be hot and uncomfortable after awhile, so she asked if I could take her somewhere so that she could buy a blouse that would be cooler. Naturally, I brought them to my favorite store in New Hope, called Shop of India. The owner named Nilam is from India and has the sensibilities of an old fashioned shop keeper who knows what her customers like and picks out pieces to try on. Back in 2008, she chose the outfit I wore when I interviewed His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In conversation in the car, Grandma Aggie, Nadine and I bonded over our shared experiences of being in his presence and what delightful and precious times those were.
She enjoyed perusing the wares and picked out a beautiful black embroidered tunic and seemed designed just for her. I was concerned about having had them out longer than anticipated and made a comment about folks wondering if I had kidnapped them. Nadine laughed and said, “Oh no, honey…….we kidnapped you!” and commented over and over that our excursion was one of the highlights of their weekend.
(Grandma Aggie, Phyllis Redman who was one of the event coordinators and Nadine)
The rest of the weekend was filled with many workshops, a talent show, dancing, drumming, meditation, prayer, good food, opportunity to bond with kindred spirits, laughter and tears that lend themselves to upcoming entries.
This is a blessing common among the Tzutujil Indians of Guatemala: “Be blessed with long life, honey in the heart, no evil, and thirteen thank-you’s.” –
At the closing of the retreat, we were wished that and it is what I offer you as well.
http://youtu.be/wRLSH5WuVqg You’re Aging Well- by Dar Williams