Ancestral Celebrations

Mother son forest small 1

I was an ances­tral gift to my fam­i­ly on Jan­u­ary 28, 1953. First bor­rowed breath: 9:13 am. As of now, 67 years ago, I have been sup­port­ed by Spir­it’s bor­rowed breath for 82 min­utes. Now I’m lis­ten­ing to what I would call mind­ful music. I’m try­ing to touch some part of me that I could call epic. I’m still search­ing and now, I’m account­ing for the feel­ings today has unleashed.

I came to my moth­ers womb fol­low­ing a well worn path into this world. I have led a charmed life. I have been loved by my fam­i­ly, friends and past lovers. I couldn’t claim the num­ber of teach­ers who have inspired, dispir­it­ed, cajoled and threat­ened me over my life time. I dis­cov­ered my bur­dens weighed me down in pro­por­tion to my age; always tip­ping the scales into their dark­ness, while match­ing my pace with each pass­ing year. Some­times, when the shad­ows of these bur­dens embraced each oth­er; the weight of their grief made sleep impos­si­ble. I would search for light in the night to frac­ture the grip; I and the void shared as we tried to squeeze each oth­er into anoth­er existence.

My ances­tral teach­ings taught the amal­gam of bur­dens and chal­lenges are the alche­my of trans­for­ma­tion for spir­i­tu­al growth.

My life took it’s time before I learned the amal­gam of bur­dens and chal­lenges are the alche­my of trans­for­ma­tion for spir­i­tu­al growth. I also learned to recog­nise those times in our lives when beau­ty halts our hike, or steals our breath. Our minds emp­ty of all things oth­er than an impos­si­ble cre­ation, even for the briefest of time. A teach­ing from my daugh­ter caused me to pon­der these kinds of expe­ri­ences. I’ve come to under­stand the beau­ty of a moun­tain or a but­ter­fly is not what stops us in our tracks. Rather, it is our beau­ty as seen by the moun­tain or but­ter­fly that is reflect­ed back to us. This gift helped me to dis­cov­er the love for some­one who need­ed to be embraced; to be show­ered in this real­i­sa­tion. It was me.

I was asked this morn­ing what I was going to do with my day. I didn’t know. Such a sim­ple ques­tion led me to reflect on where I came from. I thought…how was it that I became?

I looked into my mir­ror and saw a beau­ti­ful tapes­try gift­ed to me by my ancestors.

I looked into my mir­ror and asked who’s eyes are these? Who’s skin am I wear­ing? Who’s lack of hair am I shar­ing? Where did my lop­sided smile first appear? My ances­tors have been slow­ly mak­ing their pres­ence known in my life. Like ghosts, they are not easy to pick out in a crowd. When I look into my children’s eyes. I see their moth­er; I see frag­ments of myself. I see my moth­er in my daugh­ter. I see their mother’s father in my sons. When I was 21 I met the man who fathered me into this world. I hadn’t seen him since I was four or five. We had din­ner togeth­er, this stranger who I called John. We made small talk. I looked at his hands and watched as they moved and appeared as mine.

I read that a child born in 1947 in Eng­land trac­ing back to 1492 would have 60,000 ances­tors. For me, it has tak­en more than 60,000 souls, in acts of love or forced by hatred, to allow me to become. I real­ly don’t know how to inter­pret my ances­tors lives. What were their dreams, fears or joys they expe­ri­enced? I know they loved, per­haps feel­ing the del­i­cate ten­der­ness of each other’s souls. I know they must have seen, as I do, the boun­ty of unlim­it­ed pos­si­bil­i­ties in their fam­i­lies. They saw strength in the land hold­ing their truth while wit­ness­ing their lives as they became and all too soon this land would embrace their bodies.

Tonight I will cel­e­brate my day of birth. I will cel­e­brate the love for my ances­tors. I’ll cel­e­brate in the knowl­edge; I have always car­ried them with­in me.

Tonight I’ll light a can­dle so they can find their way to me. I’ll lis­ten to musi­cians singing in the old Gael­ic tongue and lat­er, I’ll play my med­i­cine drum for them. Tonight I will make a cer­e­mo­ni­al din­ner for over 60,000 people!

Did I find the part of me that I could call epic? Yes I did. They are com­ing for dinner.

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