For most of us, the middle of our lives brings a time of intense pressure as we move into the autumn of our path around the Sacred Hoop. We feel keenly the emptiness of our nests as children grow up and find their own ways. We have to make the decision to navigate the new relationship with our partner as the kids aren’t there anymore to divert us from one another. Sometimes we find what remains – what our partner has become; and sometimes we realize that it’s time for us to walk apart and love one another from afar.
The Medicine Wheel illustrates our journey through our lives on earth, and if we understand that we begin our walk in the North East and progress around the circle, at mid-life we are in the middle of the bottom quadrant, which is where Crow lives – the powerful bird of great transformation.
In the middle of our lives, we are faced with our own mortality, the truth that we have lived more years than we have left. We start thinking about the need for life insurance if we don’t have it, we watch our Elders leave us along with many of our friends and loved ones. We face unemployment or underemployment due to ageism in a culture that no longer values its Elders. We see this no matter how our lives look – rich or poor.
So – what do we do at this precarious point in our journey?
This morning, the Ancestors helped me see how mid-life is a very important turning point in which we shape the rest of our lives – either with Grace and healing or in continued sadness and loss.
Many times, we feel lost and alone; still struggling with old habits and wounds – and it is at this point in the middle of our journey that we really must begin to take our own healing more seriously, for our time on Earth is really all we have.
Grace is the key. The Grace of the Great Spirit, the Grace of the seeds that were planted through our lives, and the Grace of our own ability to recognize lady Grace when she shows up in our lives.
It is a great tragedy of our time that millions of people have grown up in liberal homes, stripped away from their families, small communities, faith traditions and culture. These precious gifts from the Creator who placed us on this earth were shunned in favor of the delicacies offered by the great evil: money, booze, free sex, life without commitment or conscience.
And, while these are the very people who need Grace at this moment, they are without because the seeds of Grace – the teachings, the connection, the love and forgiveness – are planted when we are little children and watered (or neglected) by the choices we (and the people who are supposed to be caring for us) make on our journeys.
By the time we reach the middle of our lives, we are either actively tending the beautiful garden that has grown from the seeds we have planted and tended and actively seeking and nurturing the long-buried seeds that we are ready to bring to life – OR – we are still partying like we’re 25, chasing men or women, stomping from place to place on the crust of a heart hardened by too much anger, hurt, shame and irresponsibility.
People who have wandered far away from the Ancestors and their Elders have no gardens and few seeds and plants of their own. And so, rather than walking in and caring for a beautiful garden at mid-life, these ones must start breaking ground and finding seeds to plant and start the hard work of digging up and learning about the seeds that they have forgotten. Otherwise they will die from the hardness of their hearts where those seeds should have been planted and cared for.
My friends at the Native Canadian Centre in Toronto and I were discussing a teaching about Eagle I received during my own intense process of transformation:
At mid-life, the Eagle’s beak is long and curved so she can no longer eat and her talons are long and curved so she cannot grasp food. She must make the decision to either die – or pull out her own talons and bash off her beak against the rocks, so that talons and beak can grow back and she can touch and taste again.
I appreciated this teaching as an image of the intense and incredibly painful (at times) process of Spiritual transformation I have been experiencing for the past few years – and which really ramped up in 2018.
Of course mine is part of the universal experience of people my age, personally created by yours truly for my spiritual growth – (and we only learn this great truth when we awaken to the fact that we are not victims but call forth our experiences through our thoughts, choices, words, and behavior).
But we must all make this difficult decision at mid-life: go through the pain of transformation on every level, or continue walking in misery and darkness – which only gets worse as we get older.
One of my friends, Johnny Moore, who is a fire keeper shared with me that Eagle’s mid-life behavior also offers us a lesson about letting go – letting go of our complicated feelings and thoughts, letting go of our old grudges and hurts, letting go of other people and accepting our responsibility for our own lives first and foremost, and letting go of material possessions.
And, you see – it is Grace that somehow seeps through the cracks of our scared and broken psyches at mid-life to help us make the right choices. To do the terrible work of de-clawing ourselves and bashing our beaks against the rocks. To help us let go of possessions, people, situations and relationships that are toxic for us, that keep us from moving forward.
Grace is not always Audrey Hepburn in a ball gown but sometimes comes to us in the form of the wild harpies, the monsters of our psyche who come to scare us into awakening. If we have conscience and even a few decent seeds, we will eventually hit a point at which the horror of our own self destruction hits us between the eyes and we begin to move toward healing, to do the hard work of digging out of the hole we’ve gotten ourselves into and just getting on with it.
If we’ve lost touch with the deep aspects of the Divine in our souls, we will remain asleep to the terrible horrors of this world and our participation in it. We will allow ourselves to remain in victim status, using our substances of choice, projecting our own shit onto unsuspecting others, and supporting the agenda of the evil ones.
Many of us have awakened and are now actively working in our communities and via the internet to help those who are still asleep and hurting. This is the pearl of great price in the healing journey at mid-life.
Because by the time we’ve reached the beak-bashing, claw-yanking out point of our journey, we have amassed so much experience here on planet Earth that we can understand and have compassion for those who are still struggling. This is the essence of healing, for as we walk with those who are still vulnerable and share their pain, share that burden – we are healed more ourselves.
It is a beautiful walk and one that young professionals cannot understand. This is why we need more Elders to step forward to share their medicine. Folks who are on the Red Road understand how important our Elders – the ones who hold the old teachings and knowledge – are to our young ones. Books and academic degrees are good and important, but there is nothing that compares to the connection and truth we receive when we sit with our Elders.
When we are walking the dark path, we shun our Elders (unless we are running to them for money or food). Or if they are not Elders but “olders,” they have shunned us and are continuing their own toxic ways.
It is only by the Grace of the Great Spirit that we are awakened and saved from walking a dark and lonely path to the end of our road. We join in a partnership with the Great Spirit and the Ancestors, through prayer, daily spiritual practice, medicine walks, joining healing circles and community events and listening to the quiet voice of the Holy One.
“For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8
And it is through this daily practice that our wounds open and we weep and wail and wander around lost as they are being cleaned of spiritual and emotional poison and anointed with the sacred holy balm of love. This is the pain of ripping off our beaks and talons, this long time out where we have to examine ourselves and our own errors and triggers, understand where they came from and work to forgive the ones who hurt us. This is healing and healing hurts.
By the time we reach mid-life, if we haven’t been walking a strong daily spiritual and healing walk, the time for beak bashing and claw yanking will catch us by surprise and it is at this point we decide whether to do the painful, lonely work or to die. The death may not come immediately, but starts with the soul death, the freak-out that causes men to leave their wives and marry 20 year olds, women to continue their paths of gossip and secret drinking. Everyone has their own little dance with the devil.
But the good news is that one spark, one little seed of life is all it takes to invite the Grace of the Great Spirit into our hearts. When we tend that little spark, nurture that little seed, our spirit begins to return to us and as we continue our practice, it becomes easier and easier to hear the whispers and feel the nudges of spirit.
It is through this process of healing that we clean out, weed, landscape and nurture our garden through the seasons of the rest of our life. This is the gracious walk into the twilight of old age, the age of Mishomis and Nokomis, the Grandfather and Grandmother, the age of fish fries and gardens in the country, home made cobbler and cake, wilted lettuce salad, fried chicken and holidays with the whole family. The age of Auntie and Uncle, the sweet guides who are also our best friends, our role models and protectors.
The cool part is that when we are awake and walking in Grace, WE are the ones who get to be the Mishomis and Nokomis now. We get to do the spoiling and the cobbler making. WE get to be the Auntie who sneaks the chocolate and secret treasures to our beloved ones, the Uncle who teaches the young ones to stay away from drugs and booze, how to ride or drum.
It is this process that helps us look for the seeds in the ones who are still lost, find the little spark that we can fan and love into a flame, a seedling that sprouts and starts to send its little plant messages to its seed friends.
And, it is through this work of tending the garden – so beautifully illustrated in the teachings of our Native Elders, Jesus of Nazareth and all our great Prophets that we are healed and begin to reconnect with one another and our Creator.
My prayer is that all the people of my generation who are still sleeping will find the spark they need to come back to the Red Road. Our youth, our children are hungry for the leadership of Elders, and it is our responsibility to guide them into the future.
The middle of our life is not a crisis if we have been paying attention, but a time to dive deeper, love stronger, show more courage than we have ever shown as we accept the mantle of Elder from those who have walked before us.
It is always better to take Eagle’s Medicine than to fall from grace.
It is my honour to be your messenger.
S’gi (Thank you in the Cherokee Language),
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It is my honour to receive and share these teachings from my guides and the Ancestors. These are messages received and written to the best of my understanding. If I have made mistakes, I would be grateful for your input. If these messages don’t resonate with you, that’s okay. I wish you well. And if these messages do resonate with you – welcome to the family.
— kandace keithley, namadaki aandeg miimiiwe gekek kwe ~ Tsa-La-Gi