Not on My Watch

Aama Bombo, Nepal

There are moments when the enormity of the insanity of these times is too much to bear. One of these was last week when I was listening to a piece on NPR about the fiasco of reunification. Fathers who were supposed to have been reunited with their children had instead been placed in another detention center, while their children were … no one knew where. The men had gone on a hunger strike, insisting that either they be returned to Central America (where they would do their best to survive and to find their children) or be released. When questioned about this, government officials admitted that they had lost track of many parents and children, and the non-profit KIND, which was trying to help, was powerless.

I sat in my car, now in my garage with the engine running, and wept. Rage rose up in me. The rage of a grandmother…

“NOT ON MY WATCH” were the words that arose.

I had visions of the grandmothers of the world hitting the streets. Rising up and insisting that the children and their children be honored and protected. This would be a different form of power than pussy hats or youth yelling, “We call B.S,” though this power is related to those.

Grandmother power rises up from those of us who gave birth long ago, and perhaps stood watch while our children gave birth. So we know the fierce, unstoppable power birth has. It takes over the body. Nothing can stop it.

The power of rebirth in a society is also fierce and unstoppable. It takes over the body politic. Nothing can stop it.

That’s why the power of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers has persisted, despite some of the grandmothers passing to the invisible realm. That’s why indigenous people speak of the power of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers as a force of nature. It’s a spirit that comes with the earth.

Are you a grandmother? If so, rise up with me and dare to say, “Not on my watch.”

Do you know a grandmother? Have one? Say to her, “Are you willing to say, “Not on my watch?’”

These words aren’t uttered lightly. They come with many years’ experience. They come from blood and tears shed for the young. They come from wisdom that is hard won. They come from having seen enough suffering. They come from being in love with beauty, with gentleness, with compassion, with oneness. That is Grandmother Power.

Do you love the beauty, the innocence of a young face? If we could see just one of those faces in person, surely we would respond.

What are we willing to do? Weigh in, grandmothers, and those who love grandmothers. What is our next step?


I posted what you’ve just read on my Facebook page, and was astounded to see a deluge of comments. And they weren’t just from grandmothers, either. Younger women appreciate the support. Women who have never been mothers relate anyway. That’s because Grandmother Power is not meant literally. The Spirit of the Grandmother is a universal force that can be felt in nature. Or embodied by a woman. Or by a man. But it is a feminine force. It is not power by force, but the power of love.

I was thrilled to have one reader inform me about Las Abuelas Responden , or Grannies Respond, a grassroots organization that already exists. The grannies organized a caravan that traveled through the west to Texas, where they arrived at a deportation center and related other sites, and registered their concern and support for immigrants crossing our border.

Now I’m wondering what we can do in Tucson. And in the world.

On a trip to Nepal, Tibet and , I was fortunate enough to have a meeting with Aama Bombo, one of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Aama embodies the fierce Divine Feminine. She bopped me on the forehead, her gaze piercing me, and said in the tone of a command, “Nothing can stop you.” She was not trying to build up my ego; she had a different message.

Nothing can stop us indeed, if we call for the Grandmother Power in nature to pour into us. The power that knows it is wrong to mistreat innocent people in need, particularly children. The power that would protect. The power that is both tender and fierce that would say, “Not on my watch.” We simply need to stay awake, to nurture our aliveness in this moment as creative women with the power of creativity, wisdom and community. How will this manifest? Even we do not need to know. It will emerge from within us. Have faith in that life force.

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