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"Be courageous, have faith, move forward as your forefathers were before you'"
Thomas Edison



Dear Friends of Spirit...

It is always such a pleasure to share with you that which Spirit brings to my attention. I hope these words will bring you comfort and encouragement for the days to come.

Courage is the emotion that can quiet the fear that prohibits you from accomplishing that which you can do. Courage is taking the "action" that calms the fear.

It is an honour for me to share with you the true story of a young woman named Selam. I admire her as a courageous warrior. She is now 27 years old, however the beginning of this story took place when she was 8 years old living in Ethopia with her mother and baby brother.

It was the middle of the night and Selam had been asleep for some time when suddenly she was awaken by the screams of rebels yelling "Ethiopians go home!" Her mother was shaking her frantically saying, "Selam, Selam wake up! Get your brother and a sweater. Hurry now!" Her small country was in the midst of a civl war and the rebels had come to burn her village to the ground. They began herding the people as if they were animals going to slaughter on to huge army type trucks that were open to all the weather elements. Some were beaten, some lost their lives. Those that were thrown onto the truck as sardines in a can could barely move and had the silent look of death in their eyes. Her baby brother cried and she tried to comfort him. As she sat, cramped for three days without food she realized as young as she was, her life was being changed forever. The ride to the refugee camp was a treacherous one with no protection from rain, sleet, snow and sun. The narrow paths up the mountains were slippery. The truck behind theirs lost it's way in the dark and the those ahead and behind it could hear screams as it tumbled down the mountainside. Fear turned to into acceptance and eventually no emotion at all. The truck was filled with blood, waste, illness and death.

Finally she reached the camp with her mother and little brother. Here people lived endlessly with only plastic coverings for shelter. Many died from the filth and disease, having lost the will to live. As a grown woman now, those memories still move her to tears for the things she saw and experienced there.

After several weeks, Selam's paternal grandparents found her and arranged for her to travel to Maine to live with her estranged father who had remarried and had other children. She did not want to leave her mother and her baby brother. She cried and fought the decision, but it was not hers to make. She was sent away to a country she had only heard about. She was severed from her family, a very tiny, frail little girl with big brown eyes, not knowing her father, the United States or how to speak the English language.

On her first day in her father's home, he spoke to her in her native language. He told her that from that day forward she was forbidden to speak in any language other than English. Portland, Maine had a policy of welcoming immigrates from Africa so there were many children in schools there struggling to "fit in". They watched cartoons to learn the language. But as time went on, this young child became very ill. She was homesick and missed the only family she had ever known. She became very depressed and refused to leave her bed or bring the sheets down from her face. She wept until there was nothing left inside. So much had happened to this young child that time and limited space prohibit the telling of the whole atrocity. All she had left was her wish to die.

One day her sister from the new marriage went to her father and told him that she was afraid that Selam was going to die. That day a remarkable thing happened. When Selam's father heard of his daughter's depression, he went for her and spoke to her once again in her native language. Oh, the power of our roots! The importance of our own culture! The amazing wisdom of our ancestors and the stories of their own journeys are the riches of our heritage! It is the truth and the courage that flows within our bones and brings us from the brink of death!

That day, a father reached out to his daughter to bring her life. He put his large hands on her shoulders and in her native tongue he said to her, "Selam! Selam! You shall NOT die! You shall live! There is greatness within you! You will be a woman of great power one day! You must believe in your heart as I believe in you! You must study and prepare for greatness!" I want to tell you that father saved his daughter's life and replaced her fear with hope and encouragement. That day, a father gave his daughter a gift of courage. She felt it flow through her blood. Selam knew in that instant that she was loved and exactly what she must do. It was the moment of decision when she heard how he believed in her that she made a commitment to herself that she would not disappoint him. That tiny little girl with the huge brown eyes decided she was a woman of greatness in the making.

Parents and guardians of youth, there are several points to make here about the importance of keeping the pride of our culture alive. It is the power of the ancestors coming through and bringing life to those who need guidance. It is love that brings purpose and courage when those around us are weak and struggling. I encourage you to remind your children of their greatness! Tell them everyday that they are meant to do great things. Give them the gift of believing in themselves. It is the best, most important gift you can ever give your child. Forget all the latest in electronics, games and cell phones. Teach them about their culture, teach them about the elders and honouring the earth and themselves. Help them to become great by believing in their gifts and abilities.

That tiny eight year old girl named Selam decided that because her father told her she was going to be great, she was going to be exactly that. It was not the end of her challenges. By the time she was in seventh grade she took on the entire school system of Portland, Maine to offer advanced classes to immigrant children. While in college she co-wrote with a friend, a book entitled, "Stories We Must Tell Our Children". It is a book filled with stories of immigrant children in the Portland area from all over the world. Stories that would break your heart. Every summer she went back to her native land of Ethopia to work with doctors and iterns in teaching young people how to avoid aids.

Today, Selam is 27 years old and has just completed her Master's Degree. She will continue to pursue her doctorate. She will continue to return to her country to help heal and give encouragement to those who are weak and can not find their way.

Not long ago, Selam sent me a beautiful very bright yellow scarf, the colour of the sun when it begins to rise in the morning. It drapes one of the altars in our home. When I sit there, I am reminded of the courage of this young woman. I am reminded that every single day there is a new beginning and at any moment we can do and become whatever we choose!

I leave you with one last thought that came from a wonderful teacher named Suzie Orman. She said her favourite mentor of her lifetime once told her, "You are a warrior and you are not to turn your back on the battlefield!" She doesn't. Selam didn't. AND I won't.

...know that you are never alone and that the Great Mystery walks beside you and is with you on your journey.

Ted and I send our love to you and your families.
Walk in Power! Many blessings,
Brenda




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