Celeste is our office manager. That, at least, is her official title. I prefer to think of her as a true Elder, in the sense of one whose whole life enables her to see, love, encourage, heal.
She talks about Creation creatively – with humor, intricacy, and a no-nonsense compassion that is generous, but leaves no room for self-deception. She has seen too much of the harm that comes from deception and oppression to allow these seeds to take root.
Her way of exploring the world is completely unifying. We may start out talking about women’s rights, weave in racial injustice, take a side-road into Peruvian cosmology, and end up discussing interior design, soccer or jazz. For Celeste, there are no false divisions. We are all relations in the most beautiful and mind-dazzling way.
Her stories envelop us in iridescent bubbles of insight. Shimmers of a reality that few people can speak about so straight and so lovingly. And yet, she does.
Then, there is the source beneath her voice. When she takes my hand, or gives me a much-needed embrace at the end (or beginning) of an intense work-week, a rich, deep, still current flows between us. I feel – shored up. Literally.
We live in a world where the shore seems to have retreated from view – maybe even disappeared altogether. Without bearing, sometimes without hope of respite, we tread the waves, swallow water, gasp and splutter back to the surface, before being submerged and disoriented once more.
But certain people, certain conversations remind us that the great pillars of life are threaded through all this turmoil and flux. Within constant change, the changeless abides. Celeste, and several other powerful women I have met in recent years, embody this paradox by first making peace in their own hearts and minds.
Rather than competing with (or preaching to) younger generations, these women are the advance guard, sending back reports of tough waters ahead, helping us navigate and survive what might otherwise have drowned us.
This is truly a revolutionary act of service. And a sacrificial one. For every time I encounter such women with their indwelling peace – which is always a struggle, always an evolution – I am immediately energized and made bold again.
I am also reminded of the responsibility we younger women have: to be free of fear, free of oppression, free of the tyranny of false comparison. To be free to stand on the hard-won shore and know we too belong here.
When I speak with these women, this is the unspoken promise – and the vision – I receive:
You and I –
we will continue to swim
against the prevailing tide.
But don’t fear –
we are compatriots
for this undertaking.
We are given gifts
what no one else
in all of history
We are making an ark
of the whole world –
in the midst
of a flood.
(Note: All artwork is the creation of Pablo Amaringo.)