Savoring Sage Time: The Journey from No One to Wise One

Savoring Sage Time: The Journey from No One to Wise One

by I. Leahanna Young


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475957570
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/08/2012
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.37(d)

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Savoring SAGE TIME

The Journey from No One to Wise One
By I. Leahanna Young

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 I. Leahanna Young
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-5757-0

Chapter One

Accept Gifts of the Sage

All worldly wisdom was once the ... heresy of some wise man. Henry David Thoreau

In order to accept the gifts of sages and incorporate them into our own journey, we need to be aware that they constantly present themselves as treasures. It is not unusual for these riches to be seen at first as problems. Our willingness to see beyond the problem to the opportunity in its hands allows it to be received as a gift.

"Savoring time with a plant?" This is a common response when someone hears this book's title. Even one of my doctors, when he asked what my book was to be called, responded with that question. Given he does seem quite young. Still, I've heard the same question from those in my own age category.

One of the advantages of the younger doctors is their seemingly love affair with high-tech medicine, a coin with two sides sometimes. However, this doctor makes great personal connections with patients. He sat beside me on his rolling stool and used his computer to pull up a dictionary to display the meaning of "sage" on the large screen of the examining room wall. He uses this screen to display each patient's picture and medical history for both doctor and patient to review. That did impress me.

All the while he was loading the dictionary onto the screen, he was commenting on how long it had been since he'd studied Latin, as though this was some ancient term. As soon as the meaning of sage, as a wise person of many years' experience, appeared on the screen, he sighed. "Ah, yes, now that does make sense."

Sages have this rare perspective of seeing where they are and where we as a culture are now. By being fully present to what is now, they may offer us their wisdom to see where our present choices are leading us. If we listen, we may use this to decide what is working to take us to where we want to go and what course corrections are needed.

When we are ready, sages will lead us to discover the value of wisdom and those who have acquired it. They can lead the way beyond our primary focus on money to experiencing a richer way to live. How often are young people encouraged to get an education to deepen their understanding of life, themselves, other people, and the world?

One dictionary definition of sage includes a "profoundly wise person, philosopher, an experienced person respected for sound judgment." How do we instill the use of sound judgment in children? Wise educators express frustration and sadness at an educational system where knowledge is offered on a temporary basis, that is, memorization of facts to pass a test to get a grade. They say the assumption seems to be, if given a storehouse of facts, students are educated for the use of sound judgment. Too often, we presume, if we tell someone, he or she should know it. In truth, we most often claim what we are told as our own when we prove it true by personal experience.

I hear sages asked, "Where in this educational system are young people taught to think, evaluate, and check facts? How do we best encourage the young to do what is required to allow wisdom of sound judgment to develop?"

Surely development of sound judgment is our children's greatest protection for staying free and being responsible citizens. Thinking for themselves can protect them against some enthusiastic, charismatic person creating unquestioning followers from wooing them. History reveals many dictators or charismatic zealots who have used such nonthinking followers to drink their Kool-Aid of death, as Jim Jones did.

A wise relative of mine says there is a difference between schooling young people to think as they are told to think and educating them to know how to think for themselves. Even our wise military leaders are realizing the need to train recruits to use sound judgment as well as respectful obedience to authority. These leaders are recognizing that both are essential for the personal survival of our servicemen and women as well as their others on the mission with them, perhaps even our national security. This sound judgment can protect us as a country from embarrassing actions that make us more enemies and less safe.

Joan Chittister writes, "Wisdom is not the quality of being wedded to the past. Wisdom is the capacity to be devoted to its ideals." Later, she adds, "It is the older generation that must turn the spotlight back on our best ideals, when the lights of the soul go dim."

Another reference found in the dictionary under the topic of "sage" is to places, people, and organizations with the name "sage." You might see the word "sage" as elder, wise one, or whatever a specific culture uses to convey this meaning. Doug Meckelson began one organization that provides online sage wisdom. Doug is a man with a vision and appreciation for elders that showed up early in his life. His website, a treasure house of wisdom available at our fingertips. Here volunteer elders are available to respond to a wide range of questions. When should I talk with my child about sex? Should I accept a secure job even if it isn't my passion? How do I maintain a positive attitude as I grow older and face new obstacles?

Doug Meckelson and Diane Haithman have compiled some of the interactions of those in this circle into a book, Elder Wisdom Circle Guide for A Meaningful Life. In their book, you find a list of traits of an elder: humor, action, love, listening, curiosity, perseverance, patience, goals, tolerance, family, spirituality, charity, hope, and attitude. Each trait is explored in the book, an inspiring, worthwhile read. The website also offers applications for volunteering to become part of this circle.

"One definition of wisdom I like," says Jimmy Carter, "is the ability to exercise good judgment about important, but uncertain matters in life." How desperately is that good judgment needed in today's world, where the nightly news seems so filled with stories of those who clearly lack this vital capacity?

Elders of today sometimes express frustrations at feeling devalued in their families. They can be heard to say, "I seem to be of little interest to my children or grandchildren. I wonder if they think I have nothing worthy of their busy lives' time and attention. Their focus on acquiring more and more things, experiences, and excitement makes quality time with them difficult. This becomes more problematic as my body asks me to slow down. Keeping pace with them becomes more taxing physically."

I have noticed the elders I personally desire to give my time and respect are those willing to acknowledge the valuable lessons learned from their mistakes. They have stories that I sense are real and worthy of my attention. I recognize as I mature that quality times happen when the sharing of stories involves listening on the part of both the young and the elder. Our number of years does not entitle us to the spotlight of solo performance on the stage of time spent with others.

It is heartening to hear some elders acknowledge a desire to hear the stories of the young, a chance to learn from this younger generation how to live more easily in a fast-paced world of today. One key to facilitating this is to ask timely questions that require answers beyond yes or no. These sages know learning is a two-way conversation, never a sermon meant to straighten out another or turn back time. A statement such as, "Would you be willing to help me understand by telling me about ... ?" can be a conversation starter. It acknowledges there are things the young know that I am ready to learn.

Barry Barkan, in his article "Culture of Change in Long-Term Care, Part I," gives the live oak definition of an elder. "An elder is a person whose work it is to synthesize wisdom from long life experience and formulate this into a legacy for future generations."

Respect has come to me more readily when I am patient and undemanding rather than sulking and complaining. (I tried demanding. It didn't work for me.) As I express understanding and compassion for their fast-paced lives and detach from my sense of entitlement to respect, it sometimes comes unbidden.

A technique I learned through nonviolent communication is to make a specific request that reveals both my need to be connected and their need to stay up to speed. When I'd once driven a long distance to see two grandsons, I used this tool with benefit. I was sitting between these two teenage boys on the couch while they played with their Wii.

I watched quietly for a while, put a hand on the knee of each, and said, "Guys, I drove a long way because I need some time to visit with you. Would you be willing to finish this game and give me twenty minutes of your time?"

To my delight, they honored my request and finished their game as I watched. Then they even gathered the rest of the family around the dining room table for some honest catch-up on each one's life.

Researchers seem to agree that elders hold many gifts for us. However, William H. Thomas, MD, in What Are Old People For, laments the concept that we live in a time and place that allows older people to disappear from view. Dr. Thomas discusses how storytelling often communicates the wisdom of elders.

Such was the Native American way of passing on wisdom before some tribes even had a written language. Native Americans have told me of memories of adults gathering the children around and saying to a tribal elder, "Tell us a story about ..." Often animals would be the central characters. As parents realized how this story heard as a child had led to wisdom in their own lives, they were motivated to call their children together to hear it. How often now do we hear parents or adults facilitate such learning for their children? This calling together around an elder acknowledges the parent's respect for the sage, thus setting a powerful learning example for the young.

Another Use of the Word "Sage"

The dictionary also defines sage as a plant. Many Native Americans hold the sage plant as sacred because of its purifying energies. They believe it heals by bringing the patient back into balance, cleansing the body and mind of negative thoughts and impurities. Sage played an integral part in ancient ceremonies. Those open-minded ones who may have no Native American blood have adopted it for cleansing today.

There is much information available online about one use of sage called smudging. Here a flame is held to a bundle of sage until smoke begins. Then the smoke is guided by a large feather or fan around the body of the participant who turns slowly to receive this blessing. Nearly anyone who wishes to relieve his or her worries, open his or her mind, clear negative thoughts and feelings, harmonize the body, and de-stress the spirit can perform this ceremony. It is a way to center on an intention when beginning an activity or facing a difficulty.

The use of the sage plant for such purposes may hold no interest for you. However, more people in health delivery systems are recognizing the wisdom power of the mind over the body. Research reveals the greater connection of body, mind, and spirit that many patients and health-care providers have realized. Using this connection in line with personal, cultural, and spiritual beliefs is beneficial as patients seek greater input to their health care.

Surely it is time to reclaim this term "sage" and all its meanings as it applies to the wise among us, as well as an herb known to the ancient ones for its healing.

Chapter Two

Time as Treasure

The most costly thing in the world is impatience. Harold (Jack) Dempsey (a sage in a local study group of A Course in Miracles,)

Be aware of the words you use to describe your own concept of time. Hear yourself say, "There is no time to waste." Maybe to yourself inside your head, you hear a little voice saying, "They are just wasting my time." Hear statements such as, "I have some time to kill." All these give us clues to our own view of time.

A perspective of time encourages us to savor it. This view of time is free of judgment. The words "waste" and "kill" are not used in this view. This concept of time carries with it our intention to be fully present to each moment with all our senses open.

"Can time be tasted? Smelled? Touched? Seen? Heard?" one may say.

"Surely not," someone else may reply.

"Oh, yes, of course," you may answer. "Remember the smell of freshly baked bread coming hot from the oven that holiday long ago. Experience the warmth and safety reaching you today. Recall being in Grandma's kitchen that year, watching as she worked her food magic without need of recipe. Can't you still hear echoes of the stories told and laughter they triggered in us as we sat around Grandma's table, relishing that scrumptious feast we shared?"

Sit a moment, and let such scenes, sounds, smells, and feelings float to the top of your own memory bank. Bask in the glow of such gifts of sensation that savoring them brings. Be aware of how often invitations to trips down memory lane begin with. Remember the time when.

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved," Cicero wrote, "but by reflection." How deprived is a culture that allows little time and space for such reflection.

How rare to find that place that offers only the gentle sounds of nature or perfect stillness that facilitate such savoring of life, past and present. Where do you go to find that quiet time to acknowledge all the gifts of past and present? When do you consider your own part in disappointments and hurts that permits you to see how to choose differently next time?

Learning the lessons of life's experiences may include mourning mistakes or losses as well as celebrating the gains. These actions require a time-out to reflect, to savor. Instead, we too often find ourselves rushing on to the next experience, perhaps to either forget the loss, thereby missing its lessons. We will never realize the surprising gifts of maturing and release that come with the willingness to do the work of grieving if we avoid giving the time to complete this valuable process.

The obsession to gain more and more things to feed a demanding ego in the driver's seat of our life is exhausting. The ego's need to prove our own worth drives us on with no time to encounter the satisfaction of growth opportunities of a life fully lived. Joseph Campbell offers food for thought about the value of a time out when he observes, "Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold." Reflection is the tool for noticing the gold.

I came to love the word "savor" as a result of an instruction given by trainers Jim and Jori Manske, who taught a process called nonviolent or compassionate communication. This new learning had a strong impact on the participants. We were eager to go out to share it with others. Jim and Jori had the wisdom to caution us, "Take time to savor this for a while. Continue to take in what you have learned. Let it be integrated into your own being and understanding. Only then will you begin to be the example out of which effective teaching is offered."

If you are interested in learning more of Jim and Jori's teachings on compassionate communication, see www.radicalcompassion. com.

I took the teachings and went for a sunset walk of Tranquility Island. There in the quiet beauty and stillness, I realized the power of savoring as a way of continuing and deepening learning beyond a classroom, a teacher, or an event. I felt myself dancing in the joy of this teaching, which had great value to me, whether or not anyone shared my excitement for it. I needed to convince no one of its value in order to claim it for myself.

From such savoring of the richness of each experience, we come to know Cicero's truth, as Joan Chittester phrases it when she says, "Cicero was right. The older generation has a great deal to give the world. But first, they must come to value it themselves."

How can we fully value that upon which we have never reflected? How can we mine its riches from which true wisdom evolves?

Pablo Picasso said, "It takes a long time to become young." I say it takes both time and time-out for savoring along the way to return to the carefree spirit of the young. That is a spirit so real, so genuine, that it finds amusement in such simple things as nature's wonders. That self can know both the tears of joy and express a wide range of emotions without false modesty or embarrassment.

The Native American culture has much to teach us about true time. We are free to use this time without judgments. Flossie Mathews, a teacher of time for me, is a friend from that culture. As the administrator of a Native American education program designed to offer guidance and counseling to students, I worked closely with the parent committee of Native American students. The committee and I shared the responsibility for seeing that their children's needs were served. Our first meeting was set for seven o'clock at night. I arrived early to be sure the room was ready and to greet the parents. Slowly, parent members of the committee began to arrive. Flossie kept assuring me it was not time to start yet as the time kept passing.

Finally at seven thirty, she said, "Now, it is time."

"How do you know?" I asked.

She replied, "Everyone is here."

What a concept for those of us who measure time by the clock, whether everyone needed for decision making is present or not.

This bond we have formed with the clock can rob us of precious passing moments we could use to connect. Instead, we become more tense and impatient. Notice how tempted we are to judge and label people who have a different approach to time. Consider the possibility of using every moment as a chance to connect. You may choose to just breathe a deep breath and connect with yourself. Check in with your body to see if it is hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, or HALT. Twelve-step work uses this acronym to remind us that we must honor our body's needs to live healthy lives. Connect with nature or someone near you. Being fully present by activating our curiosity opens our senses to experience the fullness of each moment in time. It provides a connection to yourself and all that is. Such connections bring peace instead of anxiety.


Excerpted from Savoring SAGE TIME by I. Leahanna Young Copyright © 2012 by I. Leahanna Young. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations....................xi
Accept Gifts of the Sage....................7
Time as Treasure....................13
Dorothy, Astrological Sage....................18
Accumulate Graces on Flights in Time....................26
Get Right Side Up from Upside Down....................32
Arthur, the Bounce-Back Sage....................38
The Blocks to Maturity....................45
Living an Attitude of Gratitude....................49
Nancylee, Ranch Boss Sage....................53
Build Balance into Life....................58
Enjoy the Mystery of Life's Journey....................61
Yolanda, Sage of Reconciliation....................65
Critique the Critic....................70
Vicki, Learner Sage....................74
Sage or Sourpuss, Your Choice: Using Our Power to Choose....................80
Martin "Old Eagle," Native Wisdom Sage....................83
Segue into a Sage: Avoid the Slip into Senility....................89
Sages in Disguise....................98
Smokey, Sage on a Motorcycle....................101
Connect with Change: The Twain Can Meet....................103
Nancy, the Teaching Sage....................107
Wisdom of Full Presence....................111
Kate, the Serving Sage....................114
Courage to Live on the Edge....................123
Jean, Sage of Many Learnings....................127

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Savoring Sage Time: The Journey from No One to Wise One 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
MAK3 More than 1 year ago
The stories in “Savoring Sage Time” include some very wonderful "sages" and the book was very inspiring. Not only did it make me realize that it is our experiences that help us grow, but the experiences of a "sage" are the same experiences in life that we encounter in our own lives. I realized in the stories that to become a sage, you must go through many teaching experiences. Sages, it seems, have the ability to take a risk--they come across a path where they must make a decision in the way they should travel. They have learned that it is the roads they do not travel which make them think --"I wonder what would have happened if --."or "I should have --". After I read the book, I could see within my own life, the opportunities I had a chance to take--but did not because of excuses such as -- "I have too many responsibilities right now." "I'm afraid I will fail." "I'd rather do something else right now." "Someone else may be able to do it, but I can't." I realized some of these paths presented promising opportunities, but I did not take them because I was afraid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can most certainy tell the author's peaceful way of weaving these tales of peace, love, courage, success and how to get through life through understanding the connections we have to each other are so very important. It serves as a great gift to yourself or your cherished friend.