If people ask me, “who is your idol?, I would answer, “ my idol is my grandmother”. The next question would be, “why your grandmother, and not Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela or some other prominent names?” Well, my grandmother is my idol because she was very influential in my life. How?
My grandmother was a traditional faith healer. When I was a child, I always dreamed to be like her. I wanted to be able to do the rituals she did and to meet a lot of people. Most of the villagers, both men and women would come to my grandmother for medication and healing purposes. Some of them even wanted to be my grandmother’s foster child during the healing process which would normally take 6 months to one year. During this period, my grandmother would take care of them. She would go into the jungle to look for plants to make herbal medicine for them. Truly, my grandmother became well known in my area for her abilities. My grandmother even became the source of knowledge for other native shamans and healers as they would look towards my grandmother for advice.
In many ways my grandmother was indeed a leader in my village. She had an indirect power that people were not aware of. Even though she was very popular among the people and other healers, she remained very humble and never asked for money. She only asked for clothes that she would present to the “Great Spirit’ during her rituals. She always reminds me with these words “if you really want to help people, you must have passion and positive thinking toward your patient. Don’t ever try to expect anything from them and don’t use your gift of healing for bad purposes. You must always give thanks to the “Great Spirit” because she gaves this gift”, from the words that my grandmother shared with me makes me become more open minded and appreciate towards indigenous spirituality.
I was also really amazed by her wisdom. My grandmother is a story teller. She has a lot of stories about nature and wonder. As my grandmother was illiterate, she had never read a book or held the bible. Yet, she could talk to me about the Noah story – how the big boat was built, how the world was flooded. When I asked her how she go to know about the story, she said that the “Great Spirit” told her about it. This was how I learned to love all stories because each story had its own value for life that empower me to learned more deep in this spirituality.
She also had a lot of knowledge about nature. For example, my grandmother be able to stop the rain by communicate with the spirit of the rain. Here, I also would like to share one of story that becomes the starting point in my life to wonder and love what mysticism is. When my brother was born, he was not normal. He was born with web feet like a frog’s. My grandmother instructed my father to look for a frog in the jungle. My father managed to find one within 2 weeks. My grandmother tied the frog to my brother’s feet recited her mantras. A month later, my brother’s feet became normal and the frog was still alive. Wow! That was my first insight and experience of mysticism in my life. I could not believe that my brother’s feet were healed without using any medication or surgery. That was like a miracle to me.
My grandmother’s wisdom really amazed and inspired me to be a holistic person where I can accept openness to both of spirituality in Christianity and traditional teaching. Even I’m a Christian but I strongly feel that I want to learn the gift from my grandmother in depth of the culture. As she taught me to love nature and where the spirits were alive, for me, my grandmother is the greatest teacher of wisdom and a leader in the community that really empowered me to be a leader. Some of the religious leaders and her children tried to convert her to Christianity. But she was very strong in her position and had a strong sense of her identity. She said, “I will not simply leave what I have today”. Her position in her spirituality really impressed me to be strong and struggle what I have till today. To me, what my grandmother had was a gift from God. I wish to learn from her because I feel that it is my heritage and I want to embrace it as my own too.
Some of my relatives discourage me by saying that I cannot learn from her because what my grandmother did contradicted Christian teachings. Even my own mother asked, “Are you still a Christian, Lindu? Why do you want to learn all these things? These are some of the challenges that I have to face.