Eldership in the Healing Center
An Interview with Kathy Slattery
by Lu Harper & Anne Pomeroy
In an interview, Kathy Slattery reflected on the intersection of eldership and healing during her 18 years as co-coordinator and greeter at FGC Gathering’s Healing Center. She spoke about spiritual hospitality, creating a safe space, feeling energy flows, a community of practice, and mystery—all elements we’ve experienced in eldership as well.
I had a sense very quickly on that this was a practice of spiritual hospitality. And what was called for was to meet people and greet people and to listen at a heart level…once I listened to people and had some basic understanding of what they might be looking for, there were two additional steps…one was trying to discern what modality or which practitioner…might be the best connection for them and that's a tricky part. And I can't even explain to you how that worked. But I had a sense for it. And the next part was the ebb and flow. Because sometimes there would be a lot more seekers, looking for work…than there were practitioners. So…when there was a crunch, it was kind of like spiritual triage. And that again is a…challenging place to be, and how to be there, without judgment, but trying to stay listening at a heart and a soul level.
So, the intersection of healing and eldership kind of came from my growing understanding of healing, especially healing in a group setting. That's much different than someone's individual practice. So understanding how the Body ministers through healing. And I feel like I was the one being eldered. And it was a very experiential eldering…an affirmation of a gift for being able to pair seekers and practitioners well, to the benefit of both…For healing to work…both the seeker and the practitioner had to benefit. Otherwise, it was not sustainable.
The Healing Center as safe space
We took care to prepare the room so that it started off being a clean and safe space that we could make sacred with both intention and the work and being grounded by people holding space and holding the work and holding each individual…It was powerful and entering into it …people could sense, just walking into that space…They felt like they were walking into meeting for worship…But that sense of being in that space. That is the space where healing can happen. It’s a very invitational space, invitational to open ourselves, our hearts further, but also that door is open for spirit, not just for exploration or curiosity.
On feeling energy flows, individually and collectively
With hands on healing, the closest I can come in describing it is an almost low charge electrical flow. That's an exchange between myself and the person working with me. In the Body, it's more like air currents, or yeah, it's more like currents on a bigger scale, whether it's wind or wave or water… In the bigger room, in the corporate sense, it's not just all around us, but it's permeating us. With distance or remote healing, there's a different sensation to it. And maybe on zoom, it's a different sensation…an even bigger energy, but more diffuse.
On the community of practice among the Healing Center volunteers
When the practitioner experienced something totally outside their frame of reference for their modality…[something] outside their experience in healing as ministry too…it was all okay because the community held and built such a big container that that could be absorbed—it wasn't understood, you know there's some of that might have taken months to unfold. For that practitioner, as well as the seeker perhaps. And it was okay not to have words for it…it was perfectly right that it should rest in mystery. That we were operating in a space that sometimes was beyond our understanding. And because of that, maybe things worked so well, because we weren't limited by our understanding, it could go places that we didn't even imagine. And almost invariably for the good.
And intention grows...when we start out on something…just to be kind to ourselves we set a lower bar. But pretty soon, you know we're already approaching that and we can see over it, and there's another hill beyond that one and another. And then there's mountains and... There's always more. And I think the more that's grown…the call, or the ministry, morphs and changes.
And if gifts…really belong to community, then why shouldn't they show up, bigger and better and grow in that community of practice, especially when the community of practice takes care and pays attention to care of each other.