One afternoon back in 2005 I was sitting at my desk at work listening to the radio. I had it tuned to NPR and was listening to an interview with writer Sharon Mehdi who was reading from her new book. What I heard made me stop what I was doing and listen more closely:
“On a buffety, blustery early summer day, when the news was bad and the sky turned yellow, a strange thing happened in the town where I live. That morning, two grandmothers who had never met, not even by accident, put on their summer Sunday clothes, their most comfortable shoes, their favorite sun hats, and walked to the park in the center of town. …….It’s what the grandmothers did after they got there that set the whole town on its collective ear …. The grandmothers who had never met, not even by accident, walked past the river and past the rose garden and past the playground to the center of the big grassy area that faces the town square. And there they stood. Not speaking. Not looking at squirrels. Not munching on coconut candy. In actual point of fact, not anything at all.”
So began the story of two grandmothers who knew that something had to be done about the state the world was in, two little old ladies who, when asked what they were doing, simply replied: “We’re saving the world.” By the time the story ends, millions of people all over the world are standing for peace. Not speaking, not marching, not making a sound …. just standing for peace.
The book I am referring to is “The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering,” a delightful little story book by the very talented and gifted author, teacher, healer and, yes, grandmother, Sharon Mehdi. The subtitle, “A story for anyone who thinks she can’t save the world,” conjured up an image for me of 100,000 women in white marching on Washington, D.C. one hot summer day back on July 9, 1978. My friends and I had marched with the Pennsylvania contingent and stood proudly before the west steps of the Capital to listen to speeches by our heroines – Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem among many – and standing in our truth. This little book, however, while it was also about standing in your truth, was not embellished with signs and slogans, or marching and chanting. It was about the power of presence.
It’s one thing to want an authentic life, but unless we are willing to stand in our truth and be willing to bring the power of presence into the mix, it will most certainly only be authentic in name only. An authentic life has meaning, purpose and integrity. Our beliefs and actions must be in alignment. Quite often that means being willing to not go along to get along, but to stand apart from the crowd and take a risk. That’s what the grandmothers in the story did – they risked looking foolish and senile. They believed in peace, and they were willing to stand for peace for however long it took. The question I would ask you is this: what are you willing to stand for in order for your authentic life to be real?
This week our writing assignment will take us to that place inside us where our truth resides. If you’re brave enough, I invite you to go to the Home Page and take the challenge. Who knows? You just might save the world.
Peace and blessings.
P.S. “The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering: A story for anyone who thinks she can’t save the world” by Sharon Mehdi, published 2005 by Viking, is available on Amazon. I guarantee it will lift your spirits.