Ancestral Wisdom, Present Guidance by Rozella Haydee White,
“Have you ever struggled with knowing who you are? Have you ever wondered what steps to take next in life or in love? Have you ever felt like you were stumbling around in the dark, trying to figure out which way to go? Have you ever felt disconnected from yourself and others?
There have been so many times in my life that I’ve experienced these things. Going through a divorce, battling depression, failing out of college, losing loved ones, watching plans I made disintegrate before my very eyes. All of these things left me reeling. I lost my sense of who I was (or who I thought I was) and felt like my ability to make any good decision was destroyed.
During these moments and others like it, I found myself in need of guidance. At one point I would have said that I needed someone to tell me what to do next. Just give me the right answer or show me the pathway and order my steps.
However, I soon realized that this was not what I truly needed. I didn’t need guidance that told me just what decision to make or what steps to take.
I needed guidance that led me into the depths of my soul and my body. I needed guidance that was otherworldly, leading me on a journey that revealed the wisdom I was seeking. Much like the journey that George Bailey took in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, I needed guidance that showed me the truth of who I was, the reality of who I am, and the power of who I could be.
For much of my life, I tried the guidance of this world; guidance that came from intellect and from well-meaning folks who did not embody my lived reality. I found myself shifting and sifting through the advice and the information, struggling to make a connection with the guidance that I was given or pointed towards. None of it fit or seemed relevant to who I was or what I needed. I came to understand that the guidance I was seeking was one that tapped into the spirits of my ancestors: guidance that flowed from the women who came before me – Black and Brown women who were descendants of the Atlantic slave trade. Women whose bodies ended up in the Caribbean and on the southeastern shores of what came to be known as the United States of America. Women who faced every form of violence against their minds, hearts, bodies, and souls. Women who understood that life was more than what the eye could see. Women who refused to believe that their identities, experiences, and bodies were less than human, less than love, less than divine.
I needed and am continually in need of guidance that flows out of the embodied experiences of these women, guidance that taps into supernatural energy and reminds me of the power, wisdom, and love that are imprinted in the code of my DNA.
This world would have us believe that guidance and wisdom are rooted in the intellect and mind. However, our ancestral stories – if we take the time to listen and learn from them – show us that guidance and wisdom are rooted in our bodies: in our hearts and guts and limbs. This guidance is encoded in every nook and cranny of our physical beings and wants to make its way into our beliefs and behaviours.
Tapping into this guidance is a form of prayer. It requires stillness and deep listening. It requires care and attention to be paid to one’s physical form. It asks the question, “How is it with your soul?” and waits for the answer. It leads you to bear witness to your whole self – to your mind, body, heart, and soul.
Prayer is not about what you offer. It’s about what you receive. Prayer invites us into Holy space and time that transcends this space and time. Prayer has the power to access deep wisdom and life-giving guidance that the Divine wants to share with us; wisdom and guidance that is informed by the long line of people who have come before us. Their experiences, their struggles, their joys, their faith all teach us something about ourselves. When we don’t take the time to listen and reflect, we miss a part of our story.
I invite you to tap into the guidance that awaits us all.
Who are the women in your life who have come before you?
What are their stories?
How did they embody their truth?
Where in your body do you feel this truth?
What is the Holy One revealing to you when you listen to and learn from this truth?
May you listen and listen deeply to the guidance and wisdom that is aching to be made known, guidance and wisdom that you carry in your body.
May this guidance and wisdom remind you of who and whose you are.
May this guidance and wisdom reveal that you are not alone.”