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  • Writer's pictureJaime Howell

Entering the Grove of Elders

Entering the Grove of Elders

The leaves are falling, the night ravages us, hungry for the chthonic. We are moving around the wheel, heading south. Notice the slowing pace, the spaces between. I am curious, have you learned the Sufi lesson that cannot be taught?

Farmer Jim, had a piggy back toe on the eldership path.

I once heard a tale about a half a boy. The story took place a long long time ago and yet is surprisingly close to home. Our half a boy left the village because he felt incomplete, he felt that he did not belong, some grit in a shell, a pearl becoming. He wandered far, and he could be a she or a they. One fine day he came across another half a boy, to everyone’s dismay they fought, tossed and turned, battered and bruised they both entered the river of life. Eventually, and no one knows exactly how long that took, a whole boy climbs out of the river and this is where it gets interesting because it is then and only then that he meets the elder. Picture the elder, he is sitting with one foot in the village and one foot out of the village. I love that line, it remembers me of Rumi's Breeze at dawn with its 'Secrets to tell us..'

"You have to ask for what you really want!

People are coming back and forth between the two worlds,

The door is round and open, dont go back to sleep.

I carry the feeling of the mystery in a heart basket of confidence that the elder knows how to move between the two worlds, how to sing and dance between the forest and the village, the so called ordinary and the so called numinous.

Eldership is a journey, no destination and ripe with projection. Not sure anyone declares themselves an elder. I see a voluminous vast battered heart, scarred and open because of the daring. Able for mischief and Mana alike. A well season gnarled tree in the forest of knowing.

As I call the elder within there is a settling. A vast view that seeds a capacity for moral courage and imagination, my ears hear, the eyes see in 7 generations. Experience and innocence and all that is between. Rough weathered hands and wrinkled eyes deep as an ocean. I love him when he laughs, he has been refining, crafting, giving attention to the invisible threads that cook a lif einto wholeness. Frontiers crossed. Tending the harvests and bitterness, the embodied descent into the well of grief. William Stafford once wrote a ritual to read to each other, in that piece he names that the ‘Darkness is deep.’ Oh to have the heart eyes opened by the dark. What secrets await, the good medicine of a soul coming home, humble and ordinariness soften by the ages. Smiling to the scorching summer of a crazed ego and all that ambition.

I requested something for you, and that is the other thing, the elder does not follow the rules... A asked a few humans who are dancing on the edges about eldership, here is what they said...

Eldership is….no longer needing to prove anything, it is a time of give away.

Living in my 80's is LETTING GO, gently, of certain Doings that I have loved for a long time.

Doings that until recently I've taken for granted as an integral part of me. Giving myself more space. In some sense, preparing myself a little more for what I see as the ultimate stage of my life, dying. By no means a giving up, rather a deepening, ever more. Always longing for even greater awareness, presence, connecting with my heart. Always a love for humanity, especially our children, how can we give them the greatest opportunity to thrive,to fully be the person they are.

Sharing of myself as much as I am able, Maybe just a few words in a conversation, with friends, even strangers, whatever may make our world more wonderful.

Finally, I come to this place that is learning to be more relaxed, listening to

body cues …time to stop giving, begin time to replenish by welcoming the

tender space in between where I can dream.

To finally fully embrace all the inner realms that bring me joy, pleasure, grief

fear, loneliness, exuberance, wonder… to live into the mystery, accepting that I

do not need to know what is happening and what will happen?

To let my tears slowly roll down my cheeks ,to welcome the deep feelings of

sadness emerging from my gut , to face the accumulated Grief ,personal and


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