Thursday, January 20, 2022
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
My Neighbor’s Prayer: The Vocabulary of Blessing as Common Bond
Grandmother Flordemayo (whose name means “Flower of the Dawn”) is a Curandera Espiritu or a healer of the divine spirit, part of a spiritual tradition that developed in Central and South America when European settlers first arrived, bringing slaves from Africa. The curandera tradition is a melding of this African, Christian, and Indigenous spirituality, particularly focusing on the work of midwives, herbal medicine, spiritual massage (aura and chakras) and the huesero bonesetters.
Born in Nicaragua, Flordemayo was the youngest of fifteen children, and while each of her siblings had some sort of spiritual gift, at a young age she had the gift of seeing. Her mother taught her to listen to her dreams and as early as age four, slowly passed down the practice of being a midwife. Her mother would bring her with her when she was attending births, and Flordemayo would prepare cocoa or warm milk for the laboring mother. Since we live in a culture where giving birth is almost always moved to a medical establishment, we are unaccustomed to young children supporting the work of birthing, but her indigenous roots give us a window into a different way of passing down such important wisdom and skill: simply by being present from a young age. About the unity and spirituality of women she says, “We have an incredible journey and responsibility as women. All our life, we are caretakers, walking with the Mother. We carry this within our being. For women to have the freedom of heart to be able to express ourselves spiritually is very, very important” (Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer their Vision for our Planet, by Carol Schaefer, 2006).
In the 1960s when Flordemayo was in her late teens, their family moved to New York City. Not knowing the language or culture was a huge shock, but she was with her family and able to navigate and integrate with grace. Later in the 1970s when she married, they moved to the Adirondacks, and there she was connected with a network of indigenous elders from the United States who were seeking to teach unity and care of the earth. She then moved to New Mexico, where her spiritual leadership grew. She is the director of the Institute of Natural and Traditional Medicine, served as president of the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and is acknowledged by the Mayans as a priestess. About the gift and purpose of prayer she says, “We live now with chaos and intensity. There is just so much out there to see and to witness and to hear. Centering within and prayer are two ways to control fear”
You can watch her pray, sing and chant an expanded version of prayer below here.
My Neighbor’s Prayer
you have spoken to us
with passionate words
with the beauty of your being.
Beloved Light of the Sacred Dawn,
as i stand here before you
in the beauty of your light,
hold us in the bosom
so that we may receive your love,