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Awakening to the Cycles of Life

Each month, Sacred Fire Asheville hosts a women’s fire. A recent  women’s fire was a memorable one for me.

While there’s an intimacy and privacy contained within our women’s work, sometimes it’s time to share the insights that occur. The main theme of the fire was something I might call “how to grow old in a good way.” We listened to each other talk about our parents as they are aging. Some of us brought up our own fears about getting older, about who we would become as we age, about who would want to take care of us.

One woman mentioned wanting to become an older person who has value to the community, someone her loved ones will want to support as she ages.

I left feeling, not so much a sense of resolution of the issues of how to relate with seniors in my life and to my own aging, but instead a strong sense of camaraderie that many of my sisters (perhaps all of us) have similar experiences and concerns to mine. That means a lot to me.

As I witness my own mother aging, my heart longs for something that our modern culture doesn’t seem to offer: a clear way to mature gracefully, mature with meaning, and come of age in different stages of life with support of community.

That discussion left me wondering a few things:

  • Who will take care of me when I’m a senior (and will they like it)?
  • What is my role in this stage of my life in relation to the old and the young around me (and to my family and community, in general)?
  • What qualities of eldership have been traditionally valued by community, and how can I become someone who cultivates those qualities as I age?

My friends Cassandra and Abigail passed through a rite of passage into adulthood a few months ago. In considering them (and my other friends who have received the gift of entering adulthood in this way), my questions go backward in time to youth, as well:

  • How does our community (and how do I) support people who have been given a ceremony to honor and reinforce the important stage of life where we make this profound transition?
  • What did I miss by not going through a formal rite of passage into adulthood, and is there some way to reclaim that or integrate that now?

These questions about the stages of life are the focus of Life Cycle Living, a weekend exploration sponsored by the Sacred Fire Community. These 1½-day programs are being held in Sacred Fire Community hamlets (local communities who meet around the fire) and are led by presenters trained to lead a very special exploration in how we relate to the stages of life. The exploration of the gifts and purpose of each stage is designed to catalyze further community conversations after the weekend on how to embrace a fuller appreciation of life’s phases and weave a deeper understanding of them into our lives and communities.

Ultimately, deepening our understanding of life’s cycles will help us build a foundation of support to hold each member of our communities through their life cycles, as our ancestors have done for generations in the past.

More information on Life Cycle Living can be found here:

Life Cycle Living

 

— Erin Everett
Sacred Fire Asheville
May 1, 2018