Alan Cohen, caught, centering prayer, Cynthia Bourgeault, faithkeeper, leadership, lesson, light, Onondaga Nation, Oren Lyon, Peace, prayer, sacred reading, spirituality, taught, The Sophia Center for Spirituality, wisdom groups
I had the privilege once of meeting Oren Lyon, the Native American “Faithkeeper” of the Onondaga Nation who lives just south of the city of Syracuse, New York about 80 miles from my home. I was pleasantly surprised that Alan Cohen wrote today about the role of “Faithkeeper” as it is embodied by Oren Lyon and others like him. This person in the tribe consistently holds the higher vision, having been designated to be the voice of hope, an inspiration to remember the bigger picture when others forget it. Cohen remarks that “each of us needs to be a Faithkeeper. When others around us go into fear or confusion, we serve best by remembering the light and holding peace.” When in the presence of Oren Lyon, it was easy to sense what this means and why he holds such a designation for his people.
This message is an auspicious start to my day as I prepare to travel to New Hampshire to begin a five-day experience with 15 people who have expressed an interest in leading “wisdom groups.” These are individuals who are choosing to deepen their own spirituality and help others do the same as they lead practice circles of centering prayer, sacred reading and chant, conscious work and attention, embodiment, and the attitude of presence that leads to unitive consciousness. My colleagues and I will speak of the underlying task of all this as “holding the post,” a term used often by Cynthia Bourgeault when she speaks of leadership. We are called, she says, to hold this post of leadership at certain times in our lives and/or work and then to relinquish it when another is called to step up. It is more than skill at giving direction or familiarity with the information to be imparted. It is rather a quality of presence – of remembering and embodying the light of peace and confidence for the good of the group.
With Oren Lyon as my guide, I will remember that this lesson is more caught than taught and will try, as will my colleagues Deborah and Bill, to model what we hope to impart to those gathered. Knowing many of the participants gives me confidence that the sharing will be rich and the entire event an experience of hope and light, the ripples of which will be far reaching for each one and for all of us together. May it be so.