Dear Sister of the Heart,
In private corners of my home, I create a few simple altars as receptacles for my desires, intentions and prayers. I give thanks when I gaze upon these miniature worlds that reflect back to me the wonder and magnitude of my soul’s life. The simple beauty of a carefully chosen picture, statuette, flower and candle on a mantle or a table top easily stirs my imagination and my heart. These images and this practice heal me and sustain me.
For those of you who have been to one of our mother-daughter weekend workshops, you know that Eliza and I open up an altar on the first night. It is not so much a religious experience as a spiritual one. We set a table up against a wall of our community space, and with the simple lighting of a candle, we dedicate the altar to everyone’s motherline. Mothers and daughters are invited to use the table throughout the weekend if they wish to honor the women who have come before them. Some need to heal with the women who came before them, or to seek answers from these women. It is our ancestral resource for three days.
Mothers and daughters sometimes put photos on the altar or a written note to a deceased aunt, a grandmother’s recipe, or an apology to a sister. They pay homage to their ancestors with the beautiful flowers, stones and moss they collect on walks together. We agree as a community that all the offerings- even the angry ones- will be blessed.
I have a motherline healing altar that emerged spontaneously a few months ago when I came across a framed, embroidered poem that had hung on the wall of my childhood bedroom. Before I knew it, I had “framed” the framed words with candles and flowers and had created a sacred space for it. I was drawn to consciously work with the words that were written for my maternal grandmother when she was a child. It was clearly time for me to communicate with her.
The words were composed by my grandmother’s godmother and are embroidered in pink wool on a now fading muslin fabric set in a mahogany frame. I was about 8 years old when it was given to me which was about the age my grandmother was when it was embroidered for her. As a young girl, I would look at the poem on the wall of my bedroom and imagine my grandmother, also a young girl, reading it perhaps also on the wall of her bedroom. I wondered how it made her feel.
May Love Find You
Health Dwell in You
And Your Sweet Candor
Be Its Own Reward
I imagined her being heartened by these words as a child- it was a prayer for her future abundant life. It was an oracle of sorts: Love would find her, she would be blessed with good health, and her sweet authentic nature would reward her generously.
But it made me feel sad.
I knew the way it had turned out for her. We had met only once when I was a baby and then she died later that year.
May Love Find You. Love did not find her in her loveless marriage, though she was beloved by many.
Health Dwell in you. Health did not dwell in her. She had childhood asthma that wore her, and her heart, out. Those were the days when there was no medicine for asthma and the chronic labored breathing eventually stopped her heart. She died at the age of 47.
And Your Sweet Candor Be Its Own Reward. This implies that her karma was bound to be good because of her sweet nature. I hope she reaped the rewards of her authenticity and her open heart.
I feel connected to her, not just because I am her namesake. She had one child, a daughter, as did I. And just like my grandmother, love did not find me in my loveless marriage. I have felt compelled to pick up where she left off, thus evolving and healing my motherline.
While my grandmother did not divorce her husband, I did divorce mine. These days I have been conversing with her at my motherline healing altar and I tell her I am healing my heart and I am convinced in some magical way, that I am also healing her heart. A kind of spiritual epigenetics. The relatively new science of epigenetics is proving that trauma can be inherited through epigenetic changes, and that it can also be healed.
I speak to her and tell her that a meaningful, vital life with a healed heart is my life after divorce. I tell her that my health has never been better, and I promise her that I will live a long and abundantly happy life and keep reporting back to her. And I thank her for the gift of her sweet candor, which I know I have inherited from her. In fact my mother, my daughter, and I are all reaping the rewards of her gentle life.
Now it is a prayer for me:
May Love Find You
Health Dwell In You
And Your Sweet Candor
Be Its Own Reward.
Thank you Grandmother Priscilla. Wherever you are, may you rest in peace.
Once you’ve gotten a chance to listen to the Love Letter, leave a comment below —