Wisdom of the Elders

By: Lyn Nelson
For the first 16 years of my life I feel like I was too young to appreciate visiting my grandfather. Whenever he would tell stories I would spend my time tugging at my moms shirt hoping she would put a pause on the story allowing me to go do my own thing which unfortunately seemed to be more important to me at the time. In these last few years I have grown to appreciate visiting my grandfather and the many stories he has to share, yet I still feel like I’m not fully present when I do visit him. I have always believed that the most important thing you could do when your grandpa is telling you a three hour story is to respectively nod every so often even if
your mind is floating off in another direction. I never concluded until now that the most important thing one could do while listening to their grandpa speak is to not just try to listen but to try to learn as much as you can from the story he is telling you.
In the Lakota culture grandmothers and grandfathers pass on their wisdom to the younger generations to that they know how to properly fulfill their roles as Lakota men and women. Each day during our experience on the reservation Ted would share with us “the wisdom of the elders.” Stories that were written by the Lakota elders that were meant to give each day a deeper purpose for our service on the reservation. The Lakota culture reiterated to not only respect your elders but to learn from them as much as possible because once they die, their knowledge dies.
I learned from some of the elderly clients at City Seeds that it is never too late steer life in a positive direction. During my conversation with 85 year old Ms. Lovie I focused on getting her to speak as much as she could, so I could take with me her wisdom. I have also learned through conversing with my elders on this
experience to appreciate the little things in life and of course to always learn as much as I can. I hope to not only learn from the elders who are around me now, but that when I go back home I will be able to sit down with my grandfather and absorb the wisdom I have finally grown to understand. Just two weeks before I departed for my gap semester I made a trip up to Charlotte to see my 92 year grandfather. During my visit there was this lingering thought that this could be the last time I ever get to see him. As I am learning more on my experience about the importance of our elders I am hoping I will have the opportunity to go back home and let him share with me his stories for as long as he pleases.


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