At the hospital last week I was humbled.
I had watched my mom make her way through phases of recovery after another seizure and brain surgery. From groggy to responsive, from relief to impatience, from survival to healing. "I'm healing," is what she chose to say in response to every person who came through the door, everyone who asked how she was. Because by saying it she could claim it, she could tack it into her consciousness and theirs and make it all the more real.
The diagnosis still just out of reach, her words still eluding her from time to time, she sat with her back straight, perched on the edge of her beige recliner, and listened to each medical student, to each nurse or attending, to each surgeon and visitor with equal attention. It took her effort and her energy, but she was present.
I sat beside her amazed at the fortitude of her. Her regality. Her intention.
In her presence I was elevated. I felt my lineage. I remembered that I too come from this line of strength and determination.
Even here, in her yellow hospital gown and uncertain future, she showed me the path of my next 40 years. I was in the company of an elder.
We are all aging. Some days quickly, too quickly it seems. Some days imperceptibly. But it is inevitable. And when we choose to live our lives as well as possible with longevity of body, mind, and spirit in mind, we are influential. Our choices add up. We raise the collective standard.
An elder, in my mind, my mom has a wisdom made of experience and reflection.
She has eaten well her whole life and it has kept her body able and her mind sharp.
She has continued to learn, attending seminary at the same time I was at college.
She has continued to travel, returning to see my sister in Africa just this past spring.
She has continued to work as a spritual director and hands-on healer with private clients and in her community.
She has rested in the late afternoon sun. She gardened and walked in the woods. She has seen art and heard music. She has played cards and laughed and danced with friends.
This encourages me. It inspires me. It gives me long-term perspective.
I want to think not of aging, but of "elder-ing" - leaning towards long, deep wisdom and ability.
May I walk every day and eat plants and sleep and sleep and sleep.
May I write in my journal, talk with my friends, and teach what I believe in.
May I find meaning in the seasons, the tides, the moon, and my connection to my Source.
May I know heartbreak and love and celebration and grief as honorable aspects of my human journey.
This is why I practice. This is the heart of what I teach.
To land at 86 years old with a regal and inspiring constitution of spirit.
Pay attention to who / what inspires you.
What daily actions are in place that propel you towards your own version?
Put them in your schedule, on your calendar. Make notes. Make reminders.
May we all find ways to move and to reflect and to age with diligence and with influence.
That when we may feel we are most in decline, we do it in a way that raises those around us.
I am so grateful for my life and for my loves and for our good community.
Be diligent. You affect your years ahead and the lives beyond you.
ps. Mama, I know you are going to read this because you were likely the third person on this mailing list, supporting my every effort. I could've told you I was going to write this. I could've sent you a copy and gotten your approval. But instead here it is. I am sending my approval to you. Keep going. We are listening. you matter. Love you so xxx