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Grandmothers’ Wisdom: Emerging from COVID-19 with Love and Togetherness

Written by Emma Carr
May 14, 2020

This blog post is part of our #PoWRofLove Campaign

Full video recordings of the call, with more teachings and reflections from these Grandmothers, are available to Parliament members.Explore our membership program here

“This is our time to FLY – Fall in Love with Yourself. This has given us time to look at how we love ourselves, and then in turn, how we love others,” says Grandmother Pershlie Ami, a Hopi elder.

We had an opportunity to speak with a group of several indigenous Grandmothers who travel together, offering spiritual leadership around the world. The group is formed around and inspired by Great Grandmother Rose Pere’s message “that we are all in it together, that we’re all part of the same unity, that really we are made of love, that our purpose is to see each other,” says Grandmother Devi Tide, convener of the group’s projects. Via video call, these Grandmothers offered wisdom on what the power of love means during these times.

During the current pandemic of COVID-19, indigenous populations worldwide have been disproportionately affected, according to sources such as the United Nations and Harvard. For Grandmother Pershlie, whose grandchildren are in the Navajo reservation, this is a great concern, “and being quarantined, we can’t go near them, or they can’t come out of the reservation. Being so isolated has been a struggle for me.”

During these times, there are many sources of fear. “Fear is real because fear has a spirit, it’s alive”, says Great Grandmother Mary Lyons, an Ojibwe elder, “Fear is part of the balance that is often forgotten until a thunder of noise happens, which is happening today. Fear is a crossroads. One way will lead you to a darkness that will become very comfortable, as fear will put your spirit to sleep. The other way will be the right way, to befriend the spirit Fear and accept the strength and become more aware of the whole balance. Our ancestors have journeyed through many fearful times, met the crossroads and took the right way for their future generations to be here to this day. So when you feel fear, listen to it, learn from it.”

Though these times can feel isolating, the Grandmothers see opportunity for togetherness. “I feel like we’ve been put in our little time out in order to find our way back to togetherness,” says Grandmother Devi. “We are in a caterpillar stage ready to emerge as butterflies. But this is the time that we have to really reconnect to who we are,” says Grandmother Pershlie.

It is through reconnecting to ourselves and to what loving means to us that we can emerge with stronger togetherness. “At this time, our job is to love,” says Grandmother Devi, “Love is the force that holds the universe together… our job is to find a way to hold all of us too. We each have the choice of how we want to be with other people, and with the world at large, and if we can make that choice to lead with love, we’ll find our way to emerge.”
“My focus in this time has been about self,” says Grandmother Moetu Taiha, a Maori Tuhoe elder, “I need to know myself to such an extent that I can be as true and as clear to myself, and what I’m feeling and I’m knowing, to be able to help a lot more with the people that I mahi with (that I work with).”

“Each one of us needs to do our own inner work, and as a byproduct of that, our love will increase, our connection will increase,” says Grandmother Devi. “The only way to conquer and to move forward is to move with the power of love,” says Grandmother Flordemayo, a Maya elder, “love being that energy in the center of your heart, where it can expand outside of your body, expand outside of your home, outside of your community, outside of your town, outside of your state, outside of your country.”

Despite our physical distance from one another, we are connected by the power of our love. “It’s in the airwaves that we’re actually having to communicate,” says Grandmother Eila Paul, a Maori Tainue elder. “We don’t have the word ‘love’ but we have the word aroha,” says Grandmother Moetu. To the Maori, aroha and hā, the breath of life, are deeply connected. “We’re not allowed to touch each other at the moment. So it is through the hā, in the air, that we have to communicate and remember that we are all connected,” says Grandmother Eila.

“The beauty of the spoken word, the beauty in which we dialogue and touch our hearts, communication through the threads of light, is the only way right now,” says Grandmother Flordemayo, “If we are concerned about ourselves and family members, those that are close to us, those that are distant to us, those that are on the other side of the world, we are all going through the same thing – the same pain, the same anxiety, the same discomfort.”

“We’re all healing each other at this very moment,” says Grandmother Flordemayo. We are healing each other by keeping our physical distance, but we are also healing each other by reconnecting to our own love, healing each other by reaching out  across the distance with love for one another.

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