Gratitude to our Ancestors
As I was scurrying around the house preparing to leave for vacation I had my Native American flute in my hand, I did not want to forget it. It was actually quite cumbersome and awkward carrying it around but I did not dare set it down. You see I begin every day by humbly thanking my ancestors for the gift of the flute and after my prayer of gratitude I play and then I meditate. It is the cornerstone of my morning well-being practice.
As we climbed out of the car after the 45 minute drive to the airport I could not find my flute. Panic set in that perhaps I left it somewhere it could be damaged or worst did I leave it on the back bumper as I was loading luggage. I found out later I set it down in the house it was safe, thank goodness, but it wasn’t with me. I was crestfallen, the thought of not having it was too uncomfortable to stay with for very long I had to let it go.
I truly believe everything is divinely guided so I trusted that I was not supposed to have it, although I could not conceive why. I tried not to think about it and be present to the journey our family was on to visit our relatives who live far away.
The trip was quite an adventure, we encountered weather and had to spend the night in Atlanta. My husband and kids were agitated and letting me and everyone know their degree of agitation. While waiting in line for at least 30 minutes for the airlines customer service to help us, I was standing behind an elderly woman I would come to find out later she was Dorothy from Savannah. The batteries in Dorothy’s hearing aids died and she could not hear a thing. A representative from the airline was walking through the line and told Dorothy to go to the next available phone along the wall to get assistance. I heard Dorothy tell the lady she could not understand her because she could not hear, to my shock the lady walked away from Dorothy. I stood in absolute dismay watching this unfold before me. My first thought was for Dorothy and how helpless she must have felt my second thought was for the young lady, I felt an overwhelming sense of pain for her. I could not understand how a young person could disrespect an elder in such a way.
I tapped Dorothy on the shoulder and shouted to her I would help her I would be her ears on the phone. After several phone calls both on Dorothy’s and our behalf I realized we all would be spending the night in Atlanta. I asked Dorothy if she would like to stay at the same hotel with us and we could ride the shuttle together. I could feel the relief she felt knowing we would all be going together. I booked rooms for us all and we found our way to the shuttle. We arranged for Dorothy to get new batteries for her hearing aids and she called her family who was panic-striken not knowing what had happened to her. Then my daughter and I had supper with Dorothy. My son and husband were too worn out and wanted us to bring something back to them in the room.
We had a lovely visit with Dorothy learning all about her wonderful life. She was on her way to Milwaukee to spend the holidays with her daughter. She was so excited to see her daughter and spoke very fondly of her entire family especially her grandchildren.
I guess I was still speaking in a high volume because of Dorothy’s faulty hearing aids from earlier in the day, because a gentleman at the table next to us who was by himself, and was also stranded, overheard our conversation. He sent a pizza to our table and apologized for eavesdropping but he said “please take this to your husband and son,” I want to buy their supper. We asked Mark to join us at our table and thanked him. He said he began to realize from our conversation that we did not know each other and that we adopted Dorothy and he wanted to do something to thank us in return.
How wonderful! So my daughter delivered the pizza to our hotel room for the boys and came back and we all sat and visited for at least another hour. The waitress at the hotel overheard our story and knowing Mark bought us a pizza and she gave us a round of drinks on the house. We all retired to our rooms, I made sure the front desk arranged for Dorothy to get back to the airport for her flight the next day and I gave her my cell phone number in case she ran into trouble. We were leaving a very early flight and Dorothy’s left in the afternoon so she did not want to get up that early and ride the shuttle back with us. We all bid each other a goodnight and like ships passing in the night I knew I would probably not see them again.
That morning as we were getting packed up to head back to the airport I told my family we were going to say a short prayer for Dorothy so she had a comfortable and safe trip to Milwaukee, without a single word of protest everyone joined in prayer. I hope my children never walk away from an elder in need as they walk their path in this life, but I know this knowledge must be taught and must be modeled at home.
When we arrived I met my auntie, she asked me if I could play her Native American flute on Christmas eve for the family. I could not believe it, I had no idea she had a flute! It was my little Christmas miracle. I loved playing her flute it was wonderful. The whole family was making music together. I believe the great spirit gave me the opportunity to practice what I pray, to give me the opportunity to truly honor and humble myself before my ancestors and elders to understand the gift of this flute that has been passed down to us.
My brother joined us here last night he could not come out until Christmas day, as he walked out from the gate area at the airport he was carrying my flute!!!!!! This morning I woke up and gave thanks to my ancestors and could feel their energy surround me as I played my flute. I honor their wisdom and thank them for this life.
If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is represented in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. – Thich Nhat Hanh.