I go to meet the spirit of this day, to help me navigate this day of doing, duty and devotion. This hot Saturday in a house full of boys.
I go to the Wellspring. I am a ribbon in the breeze. The breeze tells its joy through me. I am a flutter of celebration.
The ground around me is strewn with petals and small leaves. These are my gift. The Wellspring is pleased. She touches a cool finger of blessing to my forehead.
A wind comes up then and blows all the leaves back into the trees, a miraculous thing that sets us laughing.
Bear comes to guide me. I show my devotion to the bear by throwing my arms around his neck and burying my face in his fur. He snuffles and butts his nose against my shoulder in response. I am ready.
We walk side by side through the wood and up the side of the mountain. I am barefoot. The grass is cool underfoot, but the rocky ground is troublesome. The bear is not troubled. We think what I might wrap around my feet to protect them. The trouble with shoes is that they blind my feet to so much. The bear recommends letting my feet toughen up a bit so the little bits and pieces won’t trouble me, but still I will know what I’m walking on.
We reach the cave and stop just outside the dark. I confess my fear. I am afraid this won’t work. It’s been so long since I sought a day spirit’s guidance and everything’s so different now than it was.
“There’s no meaning in that: won’t work,” the bear says. “It’s nothing. Signifies nothing. Whatever happens here, happens. And there it is. All you have to do is watch and tell. Whatever it is. Even if it’s nothing. That’s something.” He licks my face to clear the hesitation from me. Petals fall all around us. They are coming from my hair and the palms of my hands. I shower the bear in white petals. And then I go on.
I go into the dark to the back stone wall. I find the fissure of light. I pass through.
I am in easy dappled light. There is bird song and rustling in the trees. There is no path. Just a small clearing.
This could be right where I started. I think I could have stayed right where I was and saved my feet the climb. I plunk myself down in the grass.
Out of the trees come wisps of spirit, small seal shaped clouds of welcome and cheerfulness. They approach but do not touch me. They settle in the grass in a circle all around me. I am pleased by their company as they are pleased by my mine. We sit. We are still.
Then I sense him coming, he who fills me with awe and gratitude. I feel him moving through the trees. His approach shatters all doubt. He is here, at the edge of the trees, tall and thin and twig-jointed. Deerman. He has arrived. He was here all along. Both.
He holds out his hand to me and I hold out mine to him. We are joined, fingertip to fingertip, we are joined by reaching. We do not move. We fill the wood.
Deerman shows me: devotion is an act of habitation.
“Inhabit each moment completely, the full reach of it. Don’t let yourself contract into any one detail, let it all flow through you, encompass it all. See how the leaves live in the wind, and the wind lives in the grass, and the grass lives in the earth, and the earth lives in the water, and the water lives in the light, and the light lives in everything. Like that,” he says. “Don’t be troubled by disturbances, let them flow through you, let them be part and let them go.”
He blows over my palm, reminding me of the power he showed me before. “Lead with your hands. Heal with your hands. Lay your hands on the world. Bless and be blessed.”