26 September 2011
Beware of Making Strangers, Not Friends
Posted by sundust oracle under: Current News .
Fall Letter from Char
Hello Every Beautiful One,
I have the great pleasure and honor in my mentoring and teaching practice of working with many beautiful elders in my every day work. My eldest student is in her 80s, my youngest student is eight wise and wonderful years, and then all those who are in-between. Something beautiful I have witnessed in my classes is how those of us in-between find delight, derive meaning, and gain beauty, wisdom and clarity through these diverse age groups. We all have so much to offer one another through our experiences of life, whether we are young and experiencing something for the first time or still learning (which is really all of us, all the time,) or have some level of mastery at what is taking place. We are truly here to enrich, pass down knowledge, and create a better world together.
There is a song by John Prine that I have loved since I was a child “so if you’re walking down the street sometime and you spot some hollow ancient eyes, don’t just pass them by and stare as if you didn’t care, say hello in there, oh…” It’s surprising that we don’t say hello in there. It’s not only with elders, we see it in every age – shoulders hunched, head down, fulfill the day’s agenda, check everything beside the dotted line leading to more work, all without the very reason we have come here: to love, to learn about love, to connect with these sacred people, these amazing miraculous events that walk by us…other human beings like us. All human beings are equipped with feelings, intuitive natures and experiences. Every time we pass someone by we are missing out on an adventure. A thrilling, hair-raising, often ecstatic multiplicity of story-telling and wisdom that could change our lives in a more brilliant and beautiful direction; even if the whole exchange is nothing more than a smile, a nod, or a wave it adds vitality, energy, aliveness and connection to our world.
Something I’ve noticed in my travels is a natural pull to mentorship and wisdom – here in the states and abroad. In Mexico the elder builders work with the younger builders, and delight in passing down an artist’s true craft. You hear them in one another’s homes laughing; see them at one another’s celebrations for their children or their grandchildren. They know one another; they care for and about one another. In Japan, the honor and respect given to those who have more experience, whose eyes have seen many things, whose fingers have woven the dreams or demise of many things in a long life, those hands are held and that wisdom is honored.
In indigenous traditions they say “oh, they have no ears right now,” when someone cannot listen. It is simply a statement. “Oh, they’ve lost their ears, they will find them.” In this western culture we say “Oh, cat got your tongue?” Which really means, “my voice has been lost,” or “I don’t have the courage to say what is so for some reason.” Angeles Arrien calls this weak heartedness. In her book The Four-Fold Way, she talks about the different kinds of love: love between colleagues, between a student and teacher, between mentor and mentee, between counselor and client, love between friends, life partners, lovers, and between a parent and a child. It seems we all have our eye on the lover and sometimes the child. Meanwhile, many of our elders are in sterile rooms with electric beds and strangers tending to them, while they remain waiting, silent, wise. We do not have an eye on the teacher, mentor, student and often times not on the friend, and less than is necessary on the simple extension of love towards ourselves, the sharing of love with others in an empowering way, even sharing what we love in our simplest daily actions.
In many traditions our loves and our gifts are noticed when we are very young by someone else who carries these gifts. Now, we have apprenticeship and internship programs for everything from doctors to electricians. I know for many of us much is missing when we won’t talk to anyone or listen to anyone else. We miss all this delicious perspective, all these different views to add to our own discernment and joy. We cannot afford to perpetuate isolation which suppresses the basic human need of touch and gaze and soul. Experience gives us pause to gain a loving or grateful perspective, our heart’s perspective on our lives. This is the gift of our friends or mentors, our families, our elders, our children. May those of us in-between remember to nod, smile or gaze, find our ears, find our voices, find our hand and reach out or even say “hello in there, oh…”
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