Grandmother Emily's Spiritual Leadership
My maternal grandmother Emily is one of the wisest, divinely allied people I have ever met.
Since childhood, I have shared in many playful, dynamic, and expansive conversations with my Grandma. We discuss extensively all things that are magic, mystical, and heavenly in the world. In the last few months, as I have been talking with her I've started to transcribe our chats. Often, I journal about the stories she shares with me of her life (which always lasts a few, or several hours).
I want to take a moment to write about a conversation of spiritual leadership I had with her recently, and reflect on that conversation here in the not-so-secret doula diary.
[image: of a photo from 1978. My Grandmother Emily holds baby MorningStarr, my Mother]
When I asked my Grandmother to describe what leadership is, at first I didn’t hear any response. She had been responding quickly to prior questions I asked. As I waited, I pulled my phone from my ear to see if the call had been dropped. I watched as more than a few seconds passed by and listened to my grandmother’s breath. Finally,
“leadership is hard to define…someone who does the best they can. You have to think of the whole. What makes you stand up and do something in a situation? A leader has to care about it, deeply care about humanity is one shape or form. You have to really love people. Period. That’s probably the most important. Knowledge or professional experience can come secondary because if they don’t give a shit, they can’t be a good leader.”
My Grandmother has taught me to always share gratitude for the gifts that I have been given and that faith is demonstrated through action. She communicates with her higher power regularly and is firmly grounded in both her spiritual gifts, as well as her body. During our conversation, I could hear the gratitude and assurance in her voice as she said,
“I’ve always found spiritual leadership in my own world in my brain, it belongs to me—it’s supposed to, it was gifted to me.”
Emily describes leadership as something felt within Spirit that any caring person may, with gratitude, offer service to or for.
[image: a photo of myself and my Grandmother in 2017. Our arms are wrapped around one another in an embrace as they pose for a picture outside of Emily's workplace]
This calling to spiritual service does resonate with me. My grandma paired this with two unwaverable values: gentleness and humor. She talked about how a person must ensure that they are gentle in spirit and that their ego is secure. Hearing these things from my Grandmother made me feel grounded in my understanding of love as the soil that holds us as we sow through collaboration's messiness. Reflecting on her words has brought me back to looking through several notes I’ve collected, prayers, photos, group agreements, organizing strategies, and journal entries.
As I was looking through them I noticed how many spaces I’m in that have shared wisdom with me that have and continue to expand my capacity for self-reflection, develop concrete practices for self-nurturing, and deepen my engagement and commitment to liberation.
I am grateful.
I am grateful.
I am grateful.
[images, beginning top left: purple and white Montana lilacs on the dashboard of my Mama's van, a photo of my prayer space from March 2020, photo of a prayer written by Deborah Blake, eight small flowers found in Autumn 2018, screenshot of a poem shared through instagram- "as you are" by nayyirah waheed]
With all my love,