Day 3: Community Sharing the Weight of Creating to Heal
We woke to our last full communal meal together at Burr Lodge with Ate Mila serenading us in sweet song. And as this trip was filled with music that helped raise spirits, it continued. This was something so healing for me throughout the trip, calling my body memory to bring me into dance.
We closed in prayer to the land in gratitude and for safe passage to Mamerto Tindongan’s home and back to our homes. We lifted our hands into the air and took the energy into our own vessels and then headed to our next destination. Warmed by the presence and familiarity of Kool’e again behind the wheel, we all exchanged in conversation of what is next for us after this trip and how we will all connect again.
When we arrived at Mamerto’s Home my heart raced, and my spirit danced, the magic of his home was indescribable, from the carvings surrounding the land and in the home, to the spiral bricks on the ground, to the planted bamboo creating a wall in the walkway of the home and fire burning in the ground to cook our departing meal.
Most of all the towering Ifugao hut he had been building with the community. He said that the dream he had that called him to build this in connection to the encouragement and support of the CfBS global community was to build an entire village that would be traveled and reassembled at the site of the Louisiana World’s Fair that exploited our peoples in 1904. This construction would be “ a response of healing past traumas toward our people in this country,” speaking to our presence and service to this land for centuries and giving to our ancestors and our future children.
Read more about the Ifugao Healing Hut Project Here: http://www.babaylan.net/events/ifugao-hut-healing-project/
One of the pieces on the hut when it was placed on the roof, was too short. Mamerto said it needed to be removed. He called on us as ritual to help retrieve the wood that would take its place. He divided us into groups of service to replace the wood inline with the islands of the Philippines- Mindano would be the group who would be to the south and retrieve the wood below in the south of the forest. Midway they would meet with the group Visaya who would carry it on the uphill passage toward the home and Luzon would be at the home preparing our meal and greeting us in our return. We were told that the ritual is reflective of an Ifugao tradition that when an individual has died the communities that the body was passing through before being brought home would have to help carry the body to the next community, sharing the service of lifting a rising spirit.
This ritual was so visceral for me as we walked down to the forest the men with bolo in hand cutting away the trees that blocked our path. And we sang as we lifted the wood and carried it up over our shoulders, in line with one another- divine community in divine service to a greater divine purpose toward the building of a divine creation for divine healing. Gratitude could not be enough. Mamerto gifted us chips from this wood to carry with us in power and light and told us our names would be etched into the wood of the hut. My eyes were welling throughout.
We gathered in closing to send off the group, that included me, who would be leaving for the airport and gifts were presented. I left the circle with necklaces from Cebu and a Pyramid carved by Mamerto- who earlier spoke of the pyramid in connection to the roof of the hut saying:
“The roof is a pyramid and we all know the pyramid is The Egyptians should not own the pyramids, our ancestors knew too.”Our ancestors knew, they were not inferior. They know the power of the universe.”
I closed my eyes to the prayer that Grace Nono bestowed upon us for our departure. Her voice awakened my spirit as it has time and again, grasping my spirit and holding it tightly. I felt protected, I felt embraced by this community, by my ancestors, by the earth surrounding us, I felt love of and from all that lives fill me. With the ending of all of this- Lily offered to us the gift of remembrance, “Don’t forget. We will not forget you.” Even these passages of reflection I am writing could not encapsulate my experience this weekend. I am changed. I am me more than I have ever been.
I felt such a longing to stay for just one more moment, to make one more memory in the enchantment of Mamerto’s home. I took a last glance, with a great-fullness that overflowed and exhaled, letting myself feel complete. Saying my last farewells, gratitudes and “I will see you again soons.” Then I heard my name called by Inday Grace “Jana Lynne!” and I knew my moment of physical presence with this community of power was truly closing. I slept during the ride to the airport with my dreams lifted by all the energy moving through me.
The group of sisters who arrived at the airport sat together in the food court holding on to last exchanges before parting ways. I was blessed to speak more on the work I have been investing in through The Journey of a Brown Girl and other creations that I look forward to building on. Lisa Suguitan Melnick and I engaged in a conversation that I promised to keep in my heart as well, to continue on my path of creation with courage, and let myself move forward no matter what may seem unreasonable or unsafe- if my heart calls me to move, I should answer it with action. She reminded me that struggle will be apart of it, but that I need not fear that.
I engaged deeper with Melissa Rae Sipin-Gabon, who exchanged with me throughout the trip, in our first encounter at the airport, on the ride up to Burr Oak Lodge the first day, over drinks on our last night after we closed out with the community and now over ice cream in Columbus Airport. I asked her, “What do you feel is the first thing you will do when you get home?” And she spoke of lighting a candle of intention as we spoke of ritual in one of our exchanges, “And write.” So blessed to have met this powerful creator of storytelling on this trip and further blessed because she will be spending a month in New York, which I will be sure to account of here when she arrives.
“What will you do when you arrive home?” she asked, and my response, “Cry.” Tears were already welling up inside me all weekend, as I experienced such tremendous givings to and from my spirit, and to bring this experience to a close was difficult. But also to know that this experience was a part of me now, this memory lived in me now, was more than I could ever have imagined. The divinity in the planning of this weekend has fueled me to move forward on my path of creating to heal and uplift more than ever.
My last exchange was with Grace Lasala, who I spent many walks with on this trip. We talked of our next steps when we return home and it was beautiful to hear of her children and know that all that she is growing in and learning of self she will share with them. That is the beauty of this work, is that as it lives in us, it will live in those in our lives we share in life with. And that it will be passed down because it was passed down to us. Our ancestors live in us as we will live in our children.
Loob lived through all the speakers, with the many spirits I exchanged with who felt like family after only 3 days, with the land, the sky, the waters and I have never felt as One with all of creation as I do this moment. Gratitude for all of the wisdom to help me rise in my journey.
This weekend has given me, the deepened language and spirit to share with my community, with all those I come to meet and with my own children in the future. The Center for Babaylan Studies is a community I will continue to give of my service and spirit to, as it has and I know will continue to fill me time and time again.