It’s important for me to take moments of rest and distance from the intensities of living day to day. I have learned the necessity of replenishing my well and how crucial it is to seek to do this with the support of those who speak similar language of life and spirit with me, who walk the world with me in parallel paths of lightwork-purpose-sacred calling, and who seek to honor and uplift the living, creation, guides and the ancestors all around us. I take these moments to gather and reflect on learnings, to sit with my circles I have met and built with in my growing and ready them to be shared in prayer of words, action and creation.
Last weekend, I exchanged in sacred sisterhood rooted in spirit, a tradition for Undas (Philippines Day of the Dead) I began last year when I gathered with sisters for ceremony of my first sacred Inking in Montreal. That trip was a definitive moment where I recognized sacred sisterhood surrounded my existence. This year on Undas my visit was to Toronto filled with light of ancestral spirit, sisterhood, children and elder wisdoms.
I want to share 5 of these lessons that emerged to teach me and that I now carry as part of my deepest prayers, in this time in my life.
1) Create Boundaries So You Can Tend to Your Path And Listen Deeper
Our sister Maria who manages the Elder Lodge Dodem Kanonhsa'(Clan Lodge) in Toronto, Canada shared deep stories of her awakening, of her spiritual teachers and how she has recently been thrusted into her path through her dreamtime moving into her waking and her healing work presenting itself in a crisis of abundance. She has recently been feeling her power of holding healing, uniting, sacred spirit space and what her body has taught her in taking her time for her own healing. Pains, ailments, wounds persist when the healer does not re-member to heal themselves. She reflected on the ability to close the door (literally to her office) in moments of needing to rest, to say no with grace and to be at ease with doing only as much as her spirit can allow- which requires the deep listening. She taught the lesson of boundaries especially for those of us who do healing and guidance work and reminded us to take care of self when doing work with and for spirit. Not only can we replenish, but we can also process and reflect our relations and exchanges from spirit in a good way.
2) Surrender to Spirit, Accept Yoir Path and Trust Yourself
My sisters Aimee and Jen of Kapwa Collective and our Ojibwe sister Amy trusted me the facilitation of holding ceremony for Sacred Dance intimately and with deep intention to hold one another in a moment of exploration. It was in this circle that we all learned how Surrender, Acceptance and Trust allows for the deepest healing. We each explored our separate and similar needs when giving in to a moment of deep connection with our spirits in dance. We explored the idea of fighting with our spiritual callings in relation to our physical lives, denying ourselves truth of what is being imparted to us from our guides and ancestors. We explored the affirmation of “Yes” and what it means to express our deepest desires without apology, but instead with excitement and confidence. We explored what it is like to accept healing from others and seek their support and affirmation and deny the healer within us to be trusted, to be given the power to give to self. And we explored the dance and how when you follow your path, the signs, the symbols, the senses of your being- you arrive exactly where you are supposed to. All these lessons rooted in Surrender, Acceptance and Trust.
3) Adopt Family and You Will Never Be Alone
I sat with my sister Jen in exchange with Elder Grandma Rene Thomas-Hill at Dodem, who shared with us beautiful lessons of living. I expressed her my lonely heart as she felt heaviness there for me. She spoke to me of my light and how it was important for me to be that light even in the darkest places and how when I allow for that to be that I will find the light of others who are shining the same, and it is our job to help others find that light and turn it on in them as well. She said that it was okay for me to be different, it is special and that it is a duty to shine. I expressed to her moments when I have felt people leave me because of my being myself in this way, the image of light shining in the darkness and people approaching the light I shine, but then disregarding it. She said we all have to come to this in our own time, many are not ready to be with the light of truth, of spirit. But the important thing is to seek connection with those who I can call family, that I will know who these people are. she said, When I am without a sister I can adopt a sister, when I need a mother I can seek a mother in community to hold me, when I need a grandma I can adopt a grandma. And that they are there for me as I am there for them. My sister Jen added the presence of my ancestors and guides as spirit family always with me.
4) HEAL Others- HEAL Yourself
Another lesson from Grandma Rene was the lesson of Healing others and ourselves as an exchange. She particularly spoke of the relationship between man and woman and the need for us to Heal eachother and to remember we were made to balance one another, to be in duality and exchange with eachother as the creator made us, like our two hands, two eyes, two ears work in tandem. She spoke of the need for us to help our brothers our men to cry to release and she told us ways to support this, that the mere action of creating a fist transmits anger to our hearts. She told us to teach them and ourselves that the opening of our hands, the holding and uniting of our hands the use of our hands to caress the head, to hold the shoulder, to embrace, to give warmth, these all are important for man and woman to learn to heal each other. She also said that we have a responsibility to one another in this way of healing because there is so much to rise from everyday. She emphasized self care, to do things that would support of spirits to be well. She told us to practice patience as a daily learning and give ourselves the time and space to listen to the messages that will come to us on our journey to put them together to help us find Peace in our living.
5) We All Belong
Ate B who is a visiting Elder from the Manobo Tribe in Mindanao spoke with me of the lesson in understanding the role we play in life, the duty we have been given to serve in a very specific and perfect way. She spoke to me the lessons as follows:
I cried to her
“WHAT AM I LIVING FOR?”
I am losing my mind.
This world does not support my
Sense of justice,
Sense of belonging
Sense of being
I’m doing the little I can
But somedays I see
How many want this life to persist
Or think that there is no other way
Than to live with these constructs
That make so many suffer
She share morning saved me by sharing her stories to me as reminders (One story to share): She said she asked her own Elder in a moment of heartbreak by the world around her- “Apo-Why do we work so hard?
Why are we so poor?
“This Earth is big
and everyone was assigned to a certain place
And everyone has to take care of that place.
Even the birds
They can only live with certain trees
(The Creator) made them for the certain trees
We all have the same place
He made our skin
To protect our part of this Earth
But the problem is that we are stealing from each other
We are small beings and we have to take care
Of what is ours to take care of.
You are blessed for every seed we plant.
When you care for a seed,
you already care for so much.
Think of the corn with one seed
You have two stalks and each stalks bears 100 seeds
Too many people don’t see their blessings
Too many don’t know how abundant
with one corn seed you have 200 stalks of corn,
and you are still not satisfied?” We have to celebrate
We celebrate when we plant
We celebrate when we harvest
We celebrate life.
“Without people like us
They will forget
It’s good we’re here
Because it can be passed down to our children.
And so you are doing good work, because
You teach them to take care of our world after us.” ———– I know its not going to be immediate
I know its going to be difficult
To live in this Now
That makes my heart break
But I am here
I will play my part
I will protect what I can
I will follow my purpose in my belonging
And I will urge others to understand their belonging too
And celebrate it in deep prayer.
I have daydreams of letting go of all things, of this life. And I feel so crazy, I feel like my loved ones think I am crazy. I lose my friends, I lose companions and students because I believe what I do about this world not serving us- too deeply sometimes. I’m not trying to shame anyone in speaking my beliefs, or making them feel guilty, I want just to contribute my perspective to the ability to make change for the betterment of us all.
I know I cannot change these structures
But can contribute to the changes necessary for our survival
I give thankful for those who continue to accept me and to support me and to love me, for who I am, for my beliefs and for my work.
Eating apples on a Monday Afternoon, exchanging in understandings of the world.
More comfort from my Elder. More love of lessons. More pray.
“Many are worried about me
Because I have very little already
That I gave up so much
Until I am in my bare minumum
And my community they worry for me
But I’m not worried
I believe I lived a good life
For the people
For the youth
I have been educating-
They are now at their right age
And they are now the ones
You are doing the good work
In their communities
Whatever man has done to the Earth
Will be paid back by man
We can’t help how people have destroyed the Earth
We are passing anyway
The destiny of this Earth will be to pass
But we need to do our part as we are alive
We have to be gentle to ourselves
We can only do what we can
We can only do so much
And we have to do it where we can be supported
To do that good work more
Accept that you cannot change
That you can only contribute to the change
Keep humble to your gifts
And keep speaking the way you do Jana
You’re so young, but you’re so wise
Keep speaking your beliefs.
Your beliefs need to be heard
To challenge the beliefs that many think they cannot change
That are the beliefs of those that do not care for the people
They do not care about the land
They do not care about the water.
This is a time of confusion.
Human beings are confused
By all the luxury
By the want for things that are rooted in vanity.
How will you make your life
More useful to Many People.
Just share your belief.
Just share your prayer.”
I’m learning. Ever learning are all of us. And the deeper I learn with my spirit leading me, the more I am opened to all there is in life that is miracle and blessing in every moment. I am grateful for my sisters Jen and Aimee in Toronto who hold space for me, who support my rising, who see me, and accept me wholly as I am. I am humbled to hold space for them and lift them with my love and admiration in return. Many lessons to learn in future days together, I feel it, I know it and I am ever filled with gratitude.