with the wisdom she first mentions here, that of her female ancestors, and where she finds her dreams of peaceful community. But For Such a Time as This I’ve been sensing the presence of my grandmother, Carrie Kayton, a lot lately, and really sitting with her teachings. Often in hard times, my mantra is a prayer that I will more fully embrace and embody the faith of my grandmother, who stands for me as a metaphorical representative of a lineage of female ancestors. For instance, my great-grandmother, Martha Lardy, was born in the 1850’s, which meant that she spent the first 15 or so years of her life as somebody’s property. She would have been 16 or 17 when the Civil War ended. When I think of my grandmother, who lived the majority of her life in the pre-civil rights South, so much of her faith in the future was invested in me. One of her favorite Biblical scriptures was from the books of Esther: “But for such a time as this that you were born.” Now how’s that for making you feel special? In the whole orchestrated universe, you matter! As a teenager it was really hard to believe, but if you hear something enough, it begins to sink in. And since she said it to everyone, as you heard it, you realized that you were special in your own unique way. It’s a message that gives you a lot of faith in yourself, and sense of purpose even before you know what that purpose looks like. Often because of the southern sharecropper system, women like my grandmother only had a 5th or 6th grade education, which means that in the context of the society most of them would have been labeled “uneducated.” I like to honor the wisdom of these women, and to bring
their voices into the conversation in new ways. It’s important for me to remember, name and honor the lived heart wisdom that they embodied. Whenever my grandmother was complimenting somebody, she would always say: “That person never met a stranger,” or “That child just don’t know no stranger.” She appreciated people who could understand everybody as friend, everybody as family; who could make room for everyone and not leave anyone beyond love. I just love that. I have always felt it as something to aspire to – to be the kind of person who doesn’t know stranger, who can find commonality among difference. Part of Growing a Global Heart involves the vision of communities coming together to turn soil and plant seeds in the midst of different belief systems, traditions, practices…seeing ourselves in each other. Part of what this project has done for me is to allow me to embody the spirit of there is no other. For a lot of my life, it was more of a concept than a lived experience. Previously, I could talk about it, but it was not yet fully alive in my own heart.
Discovering Connections At one level the emerging embodiment comes from stepping into and embodying the role of elder. Growing up, I was pretty clear what my grandmother, my grandfather, and my great aunts and uncles held as their core values. I speak a lot about my grandmother because as child that’s who I spent a lot of my time with, and as young people, we are looking to others to show us the way. More and more it feels like a privilege to know myself more fully and to offer what I’m learning, and to hold a space for other generations to find deeper connection to the truth of who they are. Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 1