“Although different people have different ways of understanding the truth, there is only one Creator. All of us, no matter what our beliefs, come from this Creator. That’s why when Indian people gather we always say, ‘Let us put our minds together and have one mind.’ We know that.
“The Creator created us equal…Sometimes we think we are superior; but no, we are all equal in the eyes of the Creator. If anyone is higher it may be the children, for they are the purest and the closest to the Mystery.”
– Grandfather Commanda
A great Algonquin Elder passed last week. Grandfather William Commanda died on August 3rd in Quebec, Canada. He was 97 years old.
Grandfather was one of the Native Elders in Steven McFadden’s book: “Profiles of Wisdom.” He was also the teacher of another part-native author, Evan Pritchard. I met Evan this spring and he spoke of Grandfather Commanda and his wisdom and gifts.
Steven McFadden shares a story about Grandfather’s wisdom and commitment to the Hoop on his website.
I would have liked to have met Grandfather Commanda. To be able to sit with him and hear him speak of the ways of Peace would have been quite powerful. My sense is that he was quite gifted with the medicine and touched many many lives with his beautiful heart.
It is a great loss for us to have someone of the caliber of Grandfather Commanda pass. In these challenging times of great chaos and turmoil, someone the likes of him could help us hold the community together and find peaceful resolution through the arguments and conflicts.
As I’m writing this, England is experiencing some of the worst riots they have ever had. Would it be possible for someone like Grandfather Commanda to stand in the middle of the chaos-filled street and calm the young troubled people down? Perhaps… But only if they respected him.
I think of Gandhi and the respect that the people of India had for him. When the riots broke out there pre-Independence from Great Britain, Gandhi fasted and fasted. He refused to break the fast until the fighting stopped. Who could do that now in England to encourage these young people to cease the violence? Is there anyone?
This is why I feel mournful for the passing of this wise Native American elder. For a man or a woman to arrive at the place where they are called “elder” is significant. The term “elder” is not given lightly. It is used only in the true sense of respect and honor for a person who has walked many miles and weighed life carefully and is seen as a teacher to others. This is a powerful thing.
We need more elders in our lives to help us stay true to the path of wisdom and peace. May our culture come to recognize this and help to create this for coming generations… soon.
And to Grandfather Commanda, may your spirit and teachings continue to inspire and guide us. All of us.
(As I finish this piece, I think of an elder in my life, Katherine Carter. She is 99.5 years old. She has been waiting for me to bring her beets from my frig for a week now and I have been preoccupied with other stuff in my life and forgotten to bring her beets until this evening when she reminded me. I have been remiss in respecting and honoring a true elder in my life. It is time to remedy this situation. Tomorrow Katherine gets her beets — which she intends to can. She’s amazing.)