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Life With My Elder

By Deborah J. Adler, > >

one who also is known as U’tana A’qua No gi’ Su

 

 

Noted journalist Bill Moyers recently wrote: “Consider yourself among the fortunate of the world if you have just one friend …who tells you the truth when the world is seducing you with flattery, or when it lets fly its slings and arrows, reassures you those things, too, shall pass.”

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Such is the presence of Grandmother Pa’ris’Ha in my life. In the past eighteen years of my association with this great teacher I have come to learn through experience that personal growth cannot be accomplished from the “sidelines.” In other words, any personal growth that is heavy on intellectualizing and short in putting principles into action is self-deception. Furthermore, personal growth is not a “solo” sport.  It’s a “team” deal.  It requires a coach, i.e. a reflection that, just like the mirror, shows it “like it is”- with no distortion, no effort to cover up or deny that which it sees.

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I invited Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha into my life eighteen years ago to be such a reflection for me because I wanted to reach my full potential as a human being, as a child of God, God expressing on this earth.  I am human, and as such, I am prone to self-deception and bias, particularly when growth becomes uncomfortable, which all growth is.  Alone, I can justify holding back or pulling back rather than stretching – especially when it’s going to hurt – for a multitude of reasons (all of which fear-based). But my “coach” is there to remind me of my commitment to excellence and to stay on me to go the distance.  Why? 1.) Because I asked her to.  That’s the role I asked her to play in my life, and, 2.) Because I stay “in the game” and don’t give up on myself.

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As my mentor, my coach, Pa’ris’Ha cannot force me to do anything, and cannot make me care enough to go the distance on my commitment.  But so long as I am in there giving it my best effort, she is along side of me pushing, encouraging, nurturing.  If she observes that I am not giving my best effort or appear to be giving up on myself, she will ask, “Is this it? Are you quitting?”  As long as I say “No” she stays in the game with me.  That’s our agreement.

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Sometimes the road seems longer than I think I can make, and that’s when she tells me if I can’t make it on my own faith, walk on hers – that she has enough for both of us. Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows, and that’s what a commitment to spiritual growth is – a perpetual marathon – that at some point about three-quarters of the way into the race, your muscles are straining, every fiber of your being is beset with doubt as to whether you can keep going another step; your mind is taunting you with “Give it up. It’s not worth the price.”  In that moment of truth you either pull out or find the resolve you need to keep going.  Once I show the resolve to keep going, Pa’Ris’Ha is relentless in helping me to get to the finish.

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If I look as though I am growing dependent, I can expect a loud and distancing silence that lets me know very clearly I have my own work to do, and I have to be the one to do it. She’s not there to carry me.  Some teachers gather up “followers.”  Pa’Ris’Ha trains and works only with leaders. She constantly challenges us to walk to the right and the left of her, not behind her.

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Some are too squeamish to work with an Elder.  As a reflection, an Elder’s observations are not always “pretty” – but they are, as the mirror shows, 100% accurate.  Although scathing at times, I still find my Elder’s directness refreshing in comparison to the “smoke and mirrors” bullshit I have seen come from some who call themselves “teachers.” They are more concerned with being liked than truly aiding their students’ growth. Ask any good Drill Instructor – being “liked” is nowhere in their consciousness.  Putting their recruits through the paces required to “toughen them up” for the job ahead is top priority. There’s no room for soft-peddling information or falling short on physical conditioning. Lives hang in the balance. It’s no less a critical need in the realm of spiritual growth. Help a person to deceive themselves, and you may well be aiding and abetting their death.

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An Elder, a gifted Coach or Mentor, is like a skilled surgeon who, when approaching the removal of a cancer, knows they must remove it all. Their patient has asked that of them, and has trust in their capabilities. There can be no half-measures to be effective. And like the dedicated surgeon, who once the removal of harmful elements is complete remains to see the reconstructive part of the surgery through to completion, so is Pa’ris’Ha right there after the “tearing down” phase with her hand outstretched to say “now let’s rebuild together.”  She is loving and nurturing and thorough. Any mother or father who has had to step between their beloved and imminent danger has been such a presence in their children’s lives.

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An Elder is a master of “roles.”  If I have mother issues, the Elder takes on that role so I can encounter myself and my behavior.  The Elder becomes “The Ogre” to help us face the hideous sides of ourselves and heal that which stands between us and true spiritual growth.

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Pa’Ris’Ha is real.  I have traveled to many places with her as part of the Society of Yunsai over the years. I was there when she returned to her homeland of Cherokee N.C., after many years absence. I was there on another occasion when her own mother traveled with a group of us to Cherokee to re-establish her connection with a homeland that she had been in denial of for many years. We sat in respect of this woman in her own process of self-discovery and self-healing as she shared childhood memories of her full-blooded Cherokee mother (the Grandmother who raised Pa’Ris’Ha and taught her the ways of the Traditional People.)

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Her mother shared with us her regret that she had rejected what her mother had offered her and also expressed her gratitude that her daughter, Pa’Ris’Ha, had been there to learn those ways from the Grandmother.

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People don’t fake moments like that.  Those were heartfelt, sincere revelations of a woman who had been touched by the memory of home. A woman nearing the end of her time, on a spiritual pilgrimage.

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Any claims that Pa’Ris’Ha is not Cherokee are absurd.  What are those claims based on? That she’s not on the government rolls?  Her grandmother refused to be registered by the government. Pa’Ris’Ha refused to be registered by the government.

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In the late 1980’s I researched the inner workings of one of the American Indian Centers outside of Cleveland. I discovered that “green cards” – the documentation proving a person is at least one-quarter “pure American Indian” – were being sold for $100 to anyone who wanted to become a “genuine blood Indian.”  So those government roles mean nothing. They show who registered. They cannot authenticate a person’s heritage, or blood lineage. To claim that a person’s absence from the roles infers, or worse, “proves” a person’s lack of a claim to blood lineage is pure ignorance.

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Hundreds of southeastern woodlands people fled into the forests at the time of the “Great Removal” of the Cherokee People to Oklahoma by the U.S. government. It stands to reason, in order to stay in this part of the country without persecution that people of Cherokee descent would not admit to being Cherokee, much less “register” themselves as “Indians” with the government. At that time in our country's history and social and political climate, the social stigma of being an indian was greater than the prejudices which existed pervasively against Negros.

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On another visit to Cherokee with Pa’Ris’Ha and a group of associates of the Yunsai Society, we were sitting around a campfire site at a place where we had rented cabins for the week.  A young woman who was the owner’s daughter approached us one afternoon and spoke to Pa’Ris’Ha. She had brought out a number of beautifully hand-carved wooden animals and objects that her grandfather had made. She wanted to show us because she had overheard our conversation about ancient symbols.   She asked Grandmother if she would teach her the stories of the carvings.

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As Pa’Ris’Ha shared the meanings of the various symbols carved by the grandfather, the young woman eye’s sparkled with life, like a fire kindled from within. She shared that for years she couldn’t ask her grandfather about the carvings - that he wouldn’t talk about them. No one, she said, talked about their Cherokee heritage because it was a stigma not talked about. It was something to hide.  She shared that there were others like herself who hungered to know about their heritage, but there was no one to teach them. She came to Grandmother asking for all of them.

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What Pa’Ris’Ha teaches was “given to be given.”  Those who taught her charged her with the responsibility of passing on the knowledge to those who came responsibly seeking. As to the legitimacy of her heritage, she is known and respected as an Elder amongst Traditionalist Indigenous Peoples on all continents. She will not identify those people because it would violate their privacy, indeed their safety, and would be considered “vulgar” in the ways of her people.

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I can tell you I have been present on numerous occasions to witness her reception by some of those Traditionalists. She is honored and respected. Her counsel is sought in matters affecting the People, as well as the planet. She is trusted as a fierce warrior and guardian of all that is Sacred. She is trusted because they know she will not betray them, even to fend off attackers and critics. She stands in her Truth. That is real.

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Pa’Ris’Ha is a powerful teacher, healer, world leader. She is recognized as such in many circles. Powerful people attract powerful opposition. In fact she teaches that one can measure the power of the commitment they have made by the force of the opposition that comes back to it.

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I have witnessed Pa’Ris’Ha walk into a group of detractors, greet them warmly and genuinely, and in a matter of minutes, totally disarm their arguments and hostility with simple Truth. She faces the opposition, as she teaches us, in faith and, embraces it as an opportunity to be the Peacekeeper. She walks her talk.

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I know. I have worked alongside Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha for 18 years. My name is Deborah Adler. I am also known as U’tana A’qua No gi’ Su. I am a songbird, a writer, a teacher, a healer, a minister, a businesswoman, a spiritual archeologist.  I consider myself privileged to know Pa’Ris’Ha as Elder, Sister, Associate, and Friend.

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Enter content here

Writers Academy Bio for Deborah Adler

 

Deborah Adler, known as U’tana A’qua to the Principle People, began writing puppet shows and poetry as early as age 7. She began writing her first songs with the guitar at age ten. Since then she has authored articles and essays, and is currently working on her first book.  She is an accomplished performing artist and workshop presenter available for bookings through her own company, Silverstream Music Inc.

See www.debadler.com

 

 

 

CHFD Bio for Deborah Adler

 

Deborah Adler is an accomplished singer-songwriter and gifted performing artist with over 30 years professional experience.  Deborah was active with the Girl Scouts of America and the American Red Cross for ten years, teaching young girls swimming and boating safety at summer resident camps in Michigan and Ohio.  Some years later, she served as a Co-Director for a Youth Outreach Theater Project called “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”  which was part of a Domestic Violence Prevention Program in Cleveland.

 

She was a Graduate Fellow of the M.F.A. Actors program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, after obtaining her B.F.A. in Theater Arts at Wayne State University in Detroit, where she also performed classical and contemporary choral works as a member of the WSU Choral Union and WSU Symphonic Choir.  In addition to TV/Radio/Film and Theater, her academic background includes math and sciences, anthropology and African studies and language. In the summer of 1975, Deborah lived and worked in Kenya

 

In addition, Deborah has over 25 years experience working with people in recovery from addictions and co-addiction; she is an author and workshop presenter who is currently working on her first book. She has been with CFHD since 1986, and is available for bookings through the Center For Human Development. See also www.debadler.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE TO WEBMASTER : HERE ARE 2 QUOTES, IF YOU WISH TO USE ONE OR THE OTHER: 

 

“Music has a tremendous power to heal, to affirm our choices and lifestyles, to bring us together and unite us as a common people.  Music is a bridge - I have seen it melt away the artificial barriers of dialects and nationalities, of color and cultural differences.  It is the universal language of the heart.

 

(reference: “In the summer of 1975, Deborah lived and worked in Kenya”):

. “I learned first-hand about working together to overcome differences in order to define and work toward common goals. And I saw music provide a common language through which to communicate feelings and foster an understanding.

 
 
 
 
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