Spirit Guide of September
She comes for me and takes me by the hand. She is tall and I am small. I am a great drag of resistance hanging off her hand. I don’t want to go. I am not ready. I want to stay, to stay with her.
She is sending me off.
Her name is Umbadu. She is magnificent, tall and thin, the color of dark chocolate, joints knobby in the stick thinness of her long, long legs and arms. She might be made of some dark and polished wood, there is such a gleam to her, and a gangliness. She is so much taller than I am, I can hardly see her face.
She wears an intricate headdress rising from the back of her head, a fan, a wooden screen with swinging bits hanging from the steady bits, rattling as she moves. There is rattle to her. Her dress is covered in intricate designs – lines and dots all swirling, paths on a treasure map. There is a lifetime of journeys in her dress.
Her feet are bare on the ground. She walks slowly but without hesitation. We reach where we are going, a grassy bank with a small dark hole in it.
She folds herself down to speak with me, bends herself down to me, listening.
“Why can’t you come with me?”
“The way is narrow. You are small and I am big. I cannot get through.”
I don’t believe there is anything she cannot do, if she wants to. She could do anything. Anything.
She waits. I consider.
There is something through the hole that she thinks is important. Something she wants, but can’t get to. It’s up to me to go through, to find out what’s there and fetch it back to her.
“Is it dangerous?”
“It won’t kill you. I wouldn’t ask this of you if I thought it would. But if you are asking will it hurt? It probably will. There is difficulty and suffering on any path. It’s not to be avoided.”
She doesn’t make me go. In the end her desire for it to happen is enough. It is my job, my mission. I accept it.
I go through the small dark hole in the bank and straight away lose myself in the light, the noise and confusion on the other side. I lose the way back. I lose, for a time, the memory of her, of Umbadu.
Alone in the dim she sits by the bank with her long legs folded, knees to the sky, feet flat on the ground, her hand resting palm up on the ground beside her as if it’s only purpose in life was to hold on to me, and until I returned, it would wait.
Am I lost forever? No. No.
In the end I remember, I find my way back. I have grown as tall as she, only beefier. But the bulk of me is insubstantial – I let it run out like air from a balloon. I condense back to lap size and climb into hers.
She makes a cradle of herself, arms and legs and belly. “Tell me,” she croons over my return, “Tell me what you have learned.”
I think of all the light and motion, all the cutting detail—roadkill, cable bills, swimming pool ladders—what use has she of these? What good would it do to clutter her world, to batter the stillness with all of that? What have I learned that she needs to know?
I look into her open face, her waiting.
“I learned that your eyes are lake water deep. That all the joy in the world is born in your mouth and when you tremble the stars fall down.”
And hearing this, her heart is glad. She croons and rocks. What god does not appreciate being worshiped?
Who among us does not?
Sing praises. In all your encounters, sing praises.