There is something mysterious about those who've gone before and blazed the trail for us. My Native American brothers and sisters call them the Grandfathers and Grandmothers, the Elders who now walk the Sky Road. The Native peoples of Tamasklit say that when one dies, his stories die also. This mystery is one that attracts and intrigues me. I want to know the old stories before they are lost.
We remember the stories of the saints and sages and retell them. The stories of those who came before have power for us. Sometimes, simply hearing the story of a saint's travail and triumph will empower us to overcome. For example, think of the icon Martin Luther King Junior has become for all who strive for a Dream against great odds.
In the form of an altar or a piece of jewelry worn close to the heart, the images of saints and sages remind us that we are following in the footsteps of the great ones who have experienced much the same hardships, joys and sorrows as we have. The reason these saints and sages are remembered and revered is because they bore the hardships, celebrated the joys and grieved the sorrows with remarkable grace and intention. Some promised to pray for us even after death.
Who are the saints and sages that inspire you? They don't have to be official canonized saints. I for one, am among the devout admirers of the late Fred Rogers, creator of the beloved misterogers show for young children. Each one of us know persons who inspired us as young people and still do. To commemorate such a person I made the altar of the old woman, in the photos above. It is very hard to photograph these, but I think you can imagine that they're better in person. (Like so many of us)
This little box is about the size of a book and my friend who owns it can carry it with her. She mostly keeps it in her art studio, where she paints beautiful pictures of flowers, remembering the lively friend of her grandmother who took her on nature walks in New England.
This is the most gratifying thing I've ever done, to help others commemorate the wonderful people and archetypes that have shaped their lives. And in making the altar pieces I get to be present with the stories my clients tell me, which is a very beautiful experience of which I never tire.