A bunch of years ago I travelled and served the International Council Of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. While with them, I’d do things like drive them to their ceremonies in a van, knock on hotel room doors for wake-up calls, and deliver meals to rooms. Occasionally I’d even give healing sessions when they were wanted. The entire experience was an honour as well as deeply educational; for the first time in my life I saw what true feminine leadership looked like and the effect that sincere prayer and ceremony could have on people and the environment.
Often at the end of gatherings (they took place all over the world) time was set aside for attendees to give gifts of thanks back to the Grandmothers. The outpouring of love took many forms, ranging from children gifting their art, to people on their knees bowing and crying, to offerings of song and dance.
One closing in particular stayed with me. We were in Rhinebeck, N.Y., four days of ceremony and prayer were complete, with the Grandmothers now patiently seated in a receiving line on a low stage, graciously receiving each offering of love from the attendees. The line-up of well-wishers was long—at least an hour had already gone by when a woman stood up in front of them and spoke to all of us with a humble and strong voice:
Dearest Grandmothers, the gift I wish to give is to sing the signature sound you were born with back to you. Each of our souls has a song that belongs only to us. I thank you for allowing me to do this.
You could see a little trepidation across the faces in the room, mostly amidst the organizers. A lot of time had already gone by, and occasionally well-wishers can can confuse offering a gift with their desire to be seen by the Grandmothers. We watched and waited, hoping it would go okay.
The woman opened her mouth and began to sing the first Grandmother’s song. A sound I had never heard before rang through the room. It was pristine, chilling, other-worldly, and precise. Yes, this song did indeed fit this Grandmother, to a tee! After about a minute, the now very intriguing woman moved on to the next Grandmother. Again a sound rang out, one I’d never heard before—again unique, and equally profound!
You could see that all the Grandmothers were stirring with delight and curiosity. A vitality and clarity was filling the room, even after these four long days of work. With each song, the awe and amazement grew. Even the crowd gasped in enchantment at the end of every song. This extraordinary acoustic divination awoke a connection—one we all long for—to hear our song sung back to us!
The Grandmothers seem to know the authenticity of this offering, as did we. How, I’ll never know, but how extraordinary to hear such sounds, sung one after another, and for such extraordinary women?
I share this story with you today while imagining you out there, enjoying or tolerating, enduring or celebrating, delighting or pining, or possibly all of the above. What I know is that healing and awareness don’t always pause for the holidays, in fact, they might even grow! With all the ways you support yourself, and receive support, I wonder about your own or another’s signature. Could imagining it or hearing it restore you in times of challenge, and perhaps even light the way when someone you love cannot see ahead?
We all give in ways that far exceed our awareness. Restoration and sustenance can replenish our well of generosity, and in the case of our signature sound, it could be the very medicine that heals what no other modality has touched.