Speaking of Religion: Listen, When They Speak

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There are some days that change a person's life. I had one of these days on Monday, August 17, 2009 when I met the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. When I looked at them sitting across the stage, I wondered about their lives and how they became part of an international council. My heart rejoiced at the idea of Grandmothers having this much power.

The Council formed in 2004. Over the course of many years, they visited each others' homelands and learned about each others' culture and ways of prayer. At Omega, each Grandmother was given time to share her sacred practices. What was extremely beautiful and powerful was that they accepted each others' traditions, unconditionally. They had no need to force their beliefs on each other. The Grandmothers believe that their differences strengthen them, instead of divide them. This is one of their greatest teachings. It is something that the world could learn from and benefit from. Acceptance heals. This Council is all about healing, teaching and praying.

One of their other teachings is about honoring Grandmothers. In indigenous cultures, this term refers to all female elders, whether they have grandchildren or not. Reaching this stage of life is seen as a place of honor and status. Unfortunately our culture does not have this perspective.

At the end of the retreat, the Grandmothers invited us to go home and create Grandmother Councils. I took their message to heart and started gathering and honoring Grandmothers five years ago. I consider it my sacred work in the world. And now, Honoring Grandmothers is expanding and will be available to interested faith communities.

The first one will be held on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 2 P.M.at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 200 Pleasant Street, Bennington. This event is open to women from St. Peter's, as well as women in the community. Grandmothers will be honored in a Shawl Ceremony, share their wisdom with each other and discover how much they have inside them.

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP so that a place will be made for you. Bring a shawl and your open heart. If you would like to honor Grandmothers in your community, please contact Teresa at teresaking1@live.com or by leaving a message at 802-733-5729.

Grandmothers have immeasurable strength and wisdom inside them. Listen to them when they speak. Ask them to tell you their stories. You will be amazed.

Teresa King is a member of the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council. Her website is: www.thelargerpicture.com     


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