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Words Matter...Elder & Spirit-Friend

As I am deepening awareness and confidence in the sacred work I am called to contribute/offer, I find myself in a dissonance of words.

A beautiful harmonic? I hope so. I don’t know yet whether it’s a major-chord-interval (easy to enjoy/listen to), a minor-chord (with some melancholy-weightedness to it), or ultimately it will be a dissonance (harder for those I love to hear). If it is troublesome, I know such tension will ultimately lead to a more satisfying resolution, if only in its time.

I no longer hear the word elder in a useful way, for my sense of the wisdom work I do. I bow to it within lineages for whom it fits best, but what I’ve been given to see/offer differs, complements, companions...

Many of you know my decades’ long journey into the gifts and challenges of what I first called this “intimate energy of offering-receiving, connection, challenge-holding, and more”: radically-covenantal-companionship. A circle community, held by radical commitment to the Center and to one another, through the conflicts/ruptures that inevitably arise. (Discomfort is often the only thing that will encourage growth our egos have not cognitively chosen). Too many of us simply sever and leave when conflict/dissonance arises. This kind of rooted-companionship doesn’t allow that, determined from the inside, somehow. So I/we stay, love, learn.

Then I focused on spiritual friendship, particularly the Celtic anam cara, or Buddhist kalyana-mittata. Aware of potential attachment/abuse (which I experienced directly), I then began to refer to these relationships in my life as spirit-friends. Not completely satisfactory, but workable. These are the friends who hold me for no reason, who can call me on my shit, even moreso than my husband. He and I live too close to one another, oft-times, for us to hear spirit-challenge as open-heartedly as I cannot help but receive it in spirit-friendships.

Ultimately, this landed me in a companionable way, an energetic reality of unconscious-becoming-conscious interdependence, co-emerging between frail and flawed human beings, willing to love first, listen, get angry, return, stay, growing together. Spirit is the guide-teacher-elder, and each/all of us–when we surrender to Spirit–become(s) more of who we are created/invited to be. [A real challenge in this for me has been to reclaim or rename the collective dimension of this journey known so intimately between spirit-friends. The one-on-one energy needs to be complemented by a collectivity of interdependence. Hence, circle].

A companionable way puts Spirit explicitly in the center, known in this co-emergent engagement. No elders intent upon eldering, at least in spaces I hold. The human ego cannot help but distract, mislead.

I do trust growing with human beings who relinquish, who surrender, and whose wisdom flourishes because of it. I trust Spirit will use my own gifts/failings as wisdom-fodder. I lean in to being spirit-friends with any/all for whom a soul-contract emerges between us. I remain thankful for those interested in eldering as a growing wisdom. I intend to stay unless/until I become unwelcomed.

My own sacred path is waiting for a different word. Spirit will indubitably let us know, in time, for any who might be curious.

[Part II? Thinking institutionally in circle way.]

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