The Old Woman
How we came to be her…
Though I did go back to finish my last year in college, I would spend most every weekend and school vacation back home in order to be near Mother Elysia – I felt like a parched sponge sitting next to a very dirty Ford Explosion (ahem…I mean Excursion) waiting impatiently to be dipped into the frothy bucket of water – so bad did I feel the need to soak up her wisdom. The words of my old friend (“she knows a lot of stuff”) now seem to me to be the most colossal understatement of all time. We as a culture ought to heavily lament the lack of attention we give to those who possess the wisdom of experience. In so doing, we force ourselves to reinvent the essence of our existence with each new generation by living and understanding life as though no one ever lived before us. Like Mother Elysia said to me: “the present commands the past along with the future.”
But, I ought to add (do I need to?) that Mother Elysia is more than just a wise elderly woman. By stepping onto her porch this becomes very quickly evident, as I believe I have related to you already. She seemingly possesses an endless stream of collective wisdom, which attracts pilgrims like myself to come and sit at her feet and listen. Quite a change from how I used to relate to this old woman.
As children we behold someone old, ugly and different and we become uncomfortable and to appease our self-identity, we ridicule them – disdaining their inherent (often unintentional) challenge to our perception of the world in all it glorious newness and “presentness.” This old person cannot keep up, they are out of style, out of contact, and out of new ideas - they are dying. (And Lord knows we do not wish to be reminded of death.) As I noted in my experience with Mother Elsyia, as we grow older we learn to wrap our disdain in sophisticated terminology and it that disdain evolves into a sort of pompous pity. Yes, in all our present wisdom, we self-righteously judge the past and make our plans for the future, having genuine sympathy for this obsolete person who obviously lags behind us.
What a strange experience it is to suddenly realize that something or someone we perceived as being archaic, is in fact amazingly adept at assembling the fractured pieces of this world (and our lives) into an inclusive whole. In truth, Mother Elysia is the polar opposite of obsolete; she is altogether applicable to our world today – though we are unsuccessful in seeing it. Like dogs chasing their tails, we circle round and round in an asinine quest for meaning and fullness – because, quite simply – we can see the tail, it is here, it is now, and we want it. Mother Elysia often counsels me to take time each day to sit, alone, and in silence, while the world continues its maddening pursuit of the newest fads, trends, and technologies – just like the dog chasing its tail. Indeed, the present commands the past along with the future.
Now that I myself am on the road to becoming an old man, I have found myself beginning to see the tyranny of the present passing away – almost naturally. Perhaps there is a certain grace in this, who knows? I did not wish to turn my account of my experience with Mother Elysia into a sermon, but alas I suppose grand and profound experiences are destined to become such, and whether we react positively or negatively to any sermon depends, in no small part, on the temporal location of our hearts. Mother Elysia will not, of course ever die, but as I note the gray hairs multiplying like rabbits in my beard and the wrinkles, which readily delineate my face, my own mortality is made present to me. The derision from youth will begin soon enough, and I am already rigging my porch for the installation of a very nice swing.
It is not suitable to merely listen to Mother Elysia - we must become her. Entering into that timeless slipstream of awareness which is Elysia, our blessed home and make ourselves it. That home where past, present, and future are triune.
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 2:52 PM [+]