Saturday, August 25, 2012
Celebration for Ann Elliott, 18 August 2012: Invocation and Closing
It’s been a very busy several weeks, which is why I’m only now getting around to posting this, just as we’re about to leave California to fly back to Scotland.
These are the two pieces that I composed and read at the Celebration event we had for our mother, last Saturday. It was a great day, with about 60 people, sunny and warm but with just enough cloud and breeze to make it bearable. Many people shared their experiences of Ann, including quite a few of her grandchildren. There was processing, labyrinth-walking, singing, reminiscing, crying, ash scattering, and nice food. Mom/Ann would have approved! I'd been feeling generally unhappy about her death, but somehow the process of the day helped me put that aside. It was wonderful hearing the impact she had on people, and the siblings and grandkids really came together in a positive and hopeful way. I guess that's why human being have these kinds of rituals...
Oh spirits of the Murray Creek Valley,
I call on you to witness what we do here today!
Ghosts of the Miwok,
Who ground their acorns by the stream below!
Chinese gold miners,
Who built their dam just up the valley from here!
Who built houses, planted orchards,
Drove their stagecoaches on the road above!
Bob and Ann Elliott,
New Age Rural Professionals,
Who followed their vision of a great time of turning
To this place where we are gathered today.
I call on all the spirits of those
Who have gone before us here in this place
To join us this day in celebrating the life
Of Ann Helena Kearney Elliott.
During her last days, she asked us not
To mark her passing with sadness and gloom,
But instead to celebrate her life,
By gathering together to have a party.
But let's be clear:
All emotions are welcome at this party,
Especially contradictory ones:
Sadness and joy; anger and love;
Puzzlement and certainty; fear and safety;
Solemnity and mirth; guilt and forgiveness;
Brokenness and healing.
So we begin our celebration with a parade,
A procession, a ritual journey
To the sacred center of this place:
The Murray Creek Labyrinth.
Let us travel in whatever way we can:
Walking, riding, singing, dancing,
With our feet, in our imaginations,
Talking philosophy, having visions.
Let us travel a short distance down the road,
But travel in time as well,
remembering and rejoicing
In Ann, mother, grandmother, mentor, friend,
Fellow traveller through life.
2. Closing: Murray Creek, a Vision for the Next 100 Years
In her last years, Ann set up Murray Creek,
With its Creative Living Center, Quiet Garden, and Labyrinth,
As The Elliott Family Trust.
Ann stated that the purpose of the Elliott Family Trust is:
"The preservation and care" of this place,
"As a place of beauty and quiet,
As a sanctuary for its wildlife,
And as a gift to be shared with others."
In accordance with the laws of the State of California,
The Elliott Family Trust is set up
To last for 100 years, like a fairy-tale castle,
In all likelihood, this is beyond the lifetimes
Of all of us here.
I think It's clear to all of us that these next 100 years
Are going to be crucial for human beings and the planet Earth.
There are multiple crises converging on us right now:
Environmental, economic, and political;
Educational, health and health care, cultural, and spiritual.
We think that Murray Creek and the Elliott Family Foundation
Has a role to play in how humanity meets these crises.
That role could simply be to provide a place
For Ann's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren
For replenishment or refuge.
Or Murray Creek could become
Part of the larger solution to our current crises,
Through promotion of innovative practices
Such as permaculture or nonviolent communication.
That's up to us now.
I don't know what we'll do with it,
But I do know that we're a creative bunch,
So I'm hopeful that we'll come up with something.
I also know that whatever it is we won't be alone in it,
Because we are being watched over
By those who came before us:
The native peoples who came here first
And whose troubled spirits Ann and Bob made peace with,
As well as the ghosts of those who came later;
I know also that Ann and Bob are watching over us
And in our hearts, inspiring us.
Moreover, we are surrounded by,
Embedded in, and held up within a network
Of caring friends and loved ones.
Now, as Ann commanded us,
Let us start those 100 years
With another procession-parade and a party!