In general, I think our society has forgotten the value of elders, and in so doing, many elders have forgotten, or never realized, their own value. In a world where youth is privileged is it any surprise that elders have forgotten their value? Without our listening, encouraging ears, elders are unlikely to share their wisdom with us... and in this present world, we desperately need their voices.
When I speak of elders, I do not only mean people older than myself, but people who, through deep self-exploration and the overcoming of hardships, have gained a level of wisdom, strength, and clarity of sight so that their presence in the world serves as a guiding light for future generations.
An elder I am friends with recently said, "We are all elders to someone." Those words resonate deeply, and are an important consideration. Often the term "elder" connotes someone much older, but the truth is that anyone, either chronologically older, or experientially older, can be considered an elder. And so, we all have insights and wisdom to share; some simply don't recognize their value, or are not given the opportunity to share their wisdom. That being said, I think it is important to value those older than us, and listen deeply to their heart song. There are many songs to learn, many skills to be preserved, many stories to be shared in those who have lived for many moons.
Today, we stand on the threshold of a world disintegrating at the hands of pollution, corporate greed, and wide spread apathy. Even so, many are beginning to wake up, and I think those awakening are doing so because of the support of ancestors (seen and unseen) and elders. One reason we have fallen so far from a place that honors the earth, human life, and personal interactions is that we have devalued our elders, and in so doing have failed to allow them to convey their wisdom. Arrogance has told us that our stories are more important; our desires are more valuable; our insights more significant. We have lost their stories, their songs, their wisdom. We have forgotten that though a body changes, the spirit is eternal, valuable, and wise. I believe when we turn our attention to listening, encouraging, and honoring our elders' wisdom we will see that our elders will flourish with a vibrance ready to sew their seeds in the fertile soil of our hearts and lives; and from these seeds a new earth will begin to rise up.
So, how do we call the elders forth? How do we remind them of their value? How do we encourage our elders to share their wisdom with us?
We can sit with them in circle. A circle of two perhaps. We can sip tea, or coffee, do artwork, or ask them questions about relationships, children, our fears, our dreams. If we listen, if we share, if we make time for them, I believe the world will shift, our hearts will open, and a world in harmony will spring up stronger and more sustainable than ever.
"...it is up to us learn how to sing again in that ancient way, so that we might be the ancestors that our descendants will sing to." ~ Craig Paterson of Temple Wind Flute