My great aunt recently passed away. She was one of my mother's many aunts: three on her mother's side and at least two on her father's side. Family holidays were all spent in the company of most of the siblings: even when family moved they came home regularly.
Growing up, I only had two aunts: one paternal, one maternal. They lived several hours away from us, and we did not see them regularly. As I was talking with my mother about the death of her great-aunt, she commented that she was sorry my brother and I hadn't had more aunts.
We didn't have a lot of biological aunts, that's true, but I did have aunts. There was the mom who lived across the street from us. She challenged me to look past some of my provincial beliefs. There was the mom who volunteered with my youth group, who held me in her arms as I cried over my boyfriend dumping me. There was my older coworker, who befriended me and partied with me but also showed me how to live a full life without a man.
Aunts serve a valuable role, one on par with crones and meddlers, in my opinion. What are crones and meddlers?
Crones are the wise women in our lives. Often our grandmothers, they have the freedom to offer us love and wisdom that we might not listen to if it came from our parents. It's easy, as a teen, to discount what your mom says, but harder to discount grandmother. They are teachers as well, formal and informal. Crones are not always cuddly cookie scented ladies though. They can be the grumpy old lady at the hospital where you volunteer, or the reserved church women who hush you during service. Crones are our prayer warriors, our witches, our ammas, our quietly powerful elders.
Meddlers? I can't think of a great word for this role. But these are the women who travel into our lives and shake things up. They love to stir the pot, ask the unasked questions, and push you to the logical limits of your argument. If she is your peer, she will ask you the questions about your faith that drive you to read the Bible again and again, trying to figure out the answers. If she is your teacher, she's the one who demands essays on all her tests, and is willing to allow a wrong answer if it traveled an interesting path. She is the woman who might make you angry now and then, but you will always go to her because you know she will be unflinchingly honest.
One of my life goals is to be an aunt, a crone, and a meddler. I'm already an aunt, both biologically and relationally, and I'm definitely a meddler! As I continue to meditate and pray and chant the psalms, I hope to grow into an amma, or a crone. What role are you filling today? And who are the aunts, crones, and meddlers in your life?