My sister Sue playfully reminded me to stop wondering and whining and simply “build it and they will come”…plan a gathering and invite people!!
I dutifully followed here suggestion. In doing so, images and senses of what was important flooded in. Simultaneously, so did a tremor of vulnerability and a sense of not deserving this somehow. I was terrified to ask for this…all the shame laden voices that called this egoic rushed in.
Previously and quite naturally my mind had moved towards a kind of half-assed life review as I approached this voluminous number in my life history, and again and again I was met by that familiar critical voice that was a chronic assessor of my life and accomplishments.
I stumbled again and again there. I wondered if I could ask that friends assist me in remembering my life through their eyes, ears, hearts and experience. I imagined having a kind of a “wake” while still living…NO…an A-Wake!! The word wake holds so many images in its simple 4 letters…it seems to evoke not only the celebration of a person’s life after their death, but also a wake denotes a kind of echoing impact on distant shores. This is what I was looking for. I needed to be able to stand and notice the ripples of my passing that has somehow landed on the shores of others in ways that rearranged even the smallest of grains of their being.
Adding the “A” to the idea of the wake added a whole other range of meanings for me…to be awake to this moment of aging…of having lived a long life already…yes, but also to call myself out as one who makes a wake!
Along with the notion of an A-Wake came a certainty in my bones that it was time to cross a threshold. At first I thought I’d ceremonially cross over into being an elder, but as the days wore on it became oh so very clear to me that I could only cross over into announcing my willingness…my surrender…my apparent appreciation for the immense task of saying yes to becoming an elder.
It was not mine to claim myself as elder it didn’t seem. It occurred to me that my elder hood would be bestowed upon me by Mystery…by some great force of Nature that could see me as I am and decide whether or not I could fill those shoes.
In the deep listening over time I began to understand just what a numinous and unfamiliar thing being a true “elder” was. Many confused it with being elderly. In my mind it was very different than being simply elderly and elders were crucial to the world at this time.
I had much to learn…but it felt right to announce to the world that I would be honored to avail myself to such a task as becoming an elder for these times.
And so it came to pass that what I imagined came to be in the month of December in Sedona, Arizona. It was a gloriously clear day and a small group of us gathered on a small hill high enough to be in view of, and be seen by, many mountainous and canyon elders that surrounded us in all directions.
It was simple and it was profound.
Can it be that already I am greeting the first shallow prints of elder hood in my mind and heart?
It feels so.
My activist and revolutionary tinder is catching fire and warming me.
From this vantage point I feel it providence to realize that there is limited time left to catch the eyes that long to sparkle into the world and encourage them. And to remind myself that there are so many hours in each day stolen when I could be robustly following the sun but instead I breathe shallowly in the boxed light of a computer screen.
Our days are numbered always and to realize this invites me to come more alive and instills gratitude into my cells.
There was some kind of alchemy I cannot name in having gathered with my people for my birthday. I felt so much…most of which I cannot actually name. There was, at times, a confusion in my receiving....and a recollection that followed.
I remember now, as I reflect, how much I love and tend the gentle flame of meaning amongst us…the tender warmth of sharing the heart.
And I remember why for so long I have taken the path less traveled…why I have wandered so often alone with an attending ache for a human companion where love was shared, yet always I was lifted by the steadiness of earth’s way.
I have chosen this.
Claim it, Jade.
And why up to now I’ve had this remarkable 4 legged significant other, and why I do the work I do.
I remember again and I am no victim.
I have chosen this and I am grateful and I LONG to give back in some remarkably nourishing way…some way quiet yet far reaching.
I bow in gratitude to the offerings of perspective.
Somehow that stepping over…as simple as it seemed on that day, radiated out into the ethers in ways I couldn’t have expected.
My body recognized my readiness.
Echoes fall back on me, indistinguishable from the lacing wind of each December day.
Long stretching and yawning darkness is here now….
Now our place in this universal rhythm mirrors the world's darkness.
I chose to be here now.
I must be.
I must wake up and give more back before my body passes away.
I will die again and again to my meekness, my fears and doubts, my muteness, but before I die in body I must tell the 'Youngers' that there is the Earth to fall back on.
She is our refuge.
We must wake up and return to the tribe of Love and Listening…of ceremony…of Great Mystery.
Death is a instigator on my path…An ally… decline whispers reminders in my heart daily.
It is the soul that lasts…it is the heart that is the great decider in the end…the Spirited nest for our soul’s ways.
We must remember….I must remember….
I must dare deeply to become elder… to give back, to give meaning, to offer up my life
for the children I never birthed but hold tightly to my breast.