One of my highest priorities these days is to live a peaceful life. From painful experience, I’ve learned what stress can do to my small family, and I do my best to keep our inner and outer worlds calm and simple. But sometimes life does not comply. You know how that goes.

For many of these past weeks, I’ve been with a dear friend of mine—on phone time and in real time—sharing with her the painful process of her husband’s dying. Anyone who has ever helped a loved one or friend on that journey knows how deeply such a crossing affects everyone it touches. The sheer physicality of nursing a person into death can take every bit of strength, will, and mind. And then there is the spiritual-emotional process of sitting so close to death. Death changes everything it touches.

I’ve been flying back and forth to be with my friend, while here at home, we still struggle with our house back in Indiana that remains vacant and unsold. All my memories of my enchanted forest in Indiana are becoming tinged with a creeping aura of fear as our financial wellbeing hangs in the balance.

And in both the arena of death, and the arena of financial fear, I know we are by no means alone. I read the papers, and I read most closely the prayers you all send to me for our monthly pipe ceremony. Death shows its face in so many of these prayers: Death of loved ones—animal and human—and death of dreams, peace, peace, security, belief, faith, and even hope.

Yes, yes, I know that death signals the blossoming of rebirth, but the process is just not fun. In the wake of this tension, I find that the larger my fear grows, the easier it is for me to be moved by the smallest of moments: the rustle of a bird wing as it flies off behind my sight; the female robin building her second nest of the season in our carport, gathering dead grasses and bits of dog hair near our front porch; a ladybug perched on a brilliant green leaf; the sound of our dog, plunging into the river after his beloved orange ball; a handful of small cherries picked from the mossy cherry tree in our pasture; the sound of my friend Leslie’s voice over the phone…

I hold on to the healing of these moments, struck once again by the fact that these sweetnesses are so much more tangible and real than the fears and sorrows swirling around in my big, confused, human brain.

My pipe and its work are more real, too. Holding the pipe in my hands, filling the bowl, smelling the tobacco and the smudge—at these times, the world is perfect and calm and at peace. Our ceremony last month took place in a room full of people and drums. After an enthusiastic drumming session that I’m sure woke up the deepest sleeping spirits, we passed the pipe around the room twice, while the smoke turned the room a foggy blue. Already, that strong ceremony is fading into the past as the next Clan Mother steps into the circle to begin her work. Her hame is She Who Heals. I’m waiting for her with breath held. I will not hold back from praying to her earnestly and often in the coming month. She seems so perfect a guide for this point in time.

So once again, I welcome you to send your prayers. Again, I’ll be sitting in our drumming circle, calling down the spirits with our lively sounds, and our humble words. We’ll be sending prayers off to spirit this Saturday night, near 7pm west coast time, if you want to pray with us.

This month, I ask that you might say a prayer for me, too. I would ask that—if it be to the highest good for all concerned—that our beautiful Indiana home find its way to someone who will love it, and who will buy it and make it their own. I ask this in the name of everything scared and holy. And I thank each and every one of you.

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  1. Bob Sholis says:

    Susan, since you have, in essence, been extending pastoral care to the dying, continue as you describe, to care for yourself as well. I love the picture of your pup with his ball, like one of my Beagle pups. Regardless of what happens with the situations you are describing, I have total confidence that you possess the strength to walk through anything. I have read enough of your work over the years to know that your life is testimony to that reality! Do some of those tangible things and activities that you know are good for you, as you successfully manage your stress. My prayers, and I am sure those of many, many others who receive your request, will be among your companions on your present journey. Peace, friend.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Bob, I love you. What helpful words and what heartfelt assurances! Thank you so much. Yesterday, we held the funeral for my friend’s husband. He is the second husband she has lost to death in her life. These things are too big a sorrow to get your hands around, so I get my hands around the small things: the sweet taste of brownies left by a caring friend, the courage of the caregivers, the mockingbird who sings here at her house at 3am every morning, the pungent smell of sage we smudge with every day. How amazing it is to be alive in this world.

  2. Cindy says:

    Sending you love and prayers, Susan! Wrapping my arms around you and Carter, your new home, and your home in Indiana. ALL SHALL BE WELL. Many a night, afraid to even take a deep breath, fretting and pleading, it was this phrase that saw me through. And I agree with Bob, your life is not only a testament to handling what comes your way, it’s also a comforting and vivid picture of how to THRIVE! You are a blessing to all of us, never forget that. We never will.

    Namaste, my dear

  3. Debra Gillis says:

    Once again holding you in my heart, my thoughts and my daily intentions. Setting the intention that the energy of your Indiana home will connect quickly with the kindred spirit who is meant to dwell there, share it’s magic, it’s healing properties, it’s connection to nature and love it just as you, Carter and your extended family have. My heart aches for your friend at the passing of her husband but I am grateful that his suffering on this plane has ended and that he can begin anew, she is blessed to have one as special as you to turn to, to offer comfort and understanding. I will be making an offering for her and asking for peace and comfort to surround her like a loving hug. Please be sure to take time for yourself,to recharge your batteries. Thinking of you, deb

  4. Suzy Gerlicher says:

    Susan, I have felt the answers to your prayers for me and I am confident the Great Spirit and She Who Heals will hear mine for you. Today I go out to my Mom in Law to humbly request her presence at my Cherokee wedding ceremony to her son in the traditional way. 🙂 I want to let you know what a humble inspiration you are to me and to my family and we know that when we tell you something, it gets passed on to the spirits for their aid. Your home will be sold and very very soon. Keep this in mind: God never lets His Children beg bread in the streets. That means that all your needs will be met and blessings overflowing to beyond measure! Love, thoughts, prayers and healing coming to you on the wings of the Eagle and the Divine, Suzy

  5. aletheia mystea says:

    Susan, I didn’t know that the house didn’t sell..I thought that the man who bought it, took your dog too. So sorry that didn’t work out, and we have to trust that right? Somehow, all is and will be well for that sacred piece land that is part of your heart’s living. We place this sacred ground and its holy dwelling, within the embrace of Thy grace, certain that the perfect match is on its way now!!

    All blessings be upon you, Carter, and your family at this soul stretching time. Aletheia

  6. Suzi Ryan says:

    Susan, Thank you for your words, as I age life becomes so Precious, from a rock in the stream to the sigh of a friend. Friendship requires maintenance just like a garden. Sharing grief with another human being is not only an experience that bonds us, but a step into transforming old emotions into a dance of blessing.
    Aloha, Susie

  7. Duffi McDermott says:

    Putting you on my only Buddhist prayer list, for the home in Indiana and for your peace and well-being. Holing you in my heart as you continue your journey in this life, with love

  8. kathey says:

    Dearest Susan, I am very excited to be reading your latest news form Oregon, with your stories of love and determination in face of all that you have been dealing with since your last writings. Seeing our dear and close friends losing their partners brings up a lot of tension in us, the onlookers and supporters, as they go through their losses. It can be overwhelming, yet what is the alternative? None really except to continue to be there with all that is… the sadness… and feel the presence of nature which moves in its eternal rhythm of life, day after day. Please keep your faith, and believe that your dear place in Indiana will sell, soon, and to the proper persons. I ask you to include yourself in your full moon ceremony coming up, to surround yourself in love and smoke the pipe in honor of yourself, your move back to Oregon, and the family that will now support you and Carter more intimately.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Folks, I just want to let you all know that your words of encouragement mean so much to me! I sometimes forget what a big “family” I have—most of whom I have never met. Loving blessings to all you kind hearts!

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