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Posts Tagged ‘devotional’

The story begins like this: someone is lost, someone finds a thing, not what they were looking for, but a thing they need.

You are wandering. Perhaps you are wandering in fact, on a hike, on vacation, a break from your everyday life. Perhaps you are wandering in spirit only, in the idle moments of your day, or when you ought to be focused on something else, something important. Perhaps the face you wear every day makes you feel trapped. So you wander outside of yourself for a bit, and this is when you meet him.

You meet him in the mountains. Or, you meet him at the crossroads, metaphorical or otherwise. You meet him in the flood of words and images at 2 am in the glow from your laptop when you drown yourself in media to quiet your brain in the hopes that you can sleep. You meet him in a song. You did not expect to meet him here, wherever here is.

“Who’s there?” you ask, and you hear only laughter, faintly, and perhaps the ringing of bells. You try to see his face, and immediately you feel that this task is insurmountable. He does not have a face, or he has a multitude. His face is hidden, it is visible only in profile or a sliver beneath a hood. You think he is wearing a hood. That might just be his head. You’re not sure where the horns come from. You don’t know if that’s fur or feathers and if it is growing or worn. You ask about these things, and there is more laughter. Perhaps that is the point. You ask if you may walk with him a while.

“What do you think you can give me?” he seems to ask, and you fumble through memories of texts, for approximations, correspondences, fragments gleaned from other faces, other cultural lenses that seem more familiar. More laughter. More songs, silly and resilient and lingering in your head long after, until you cannot remember why you are humming it at all. You struggle to see, to understand, to hold this image in your hand though it shifts and slips through your fingers like water. “Can’t you be still?” you wonder, and his image shivers, a brief rainstorm, a disrupted connection.

“No,” he says, “and neither can you.”

You frown, because you feel safe, and secure in your home. Or perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you are filled with fear, and the fear is what keeps you still. While you still seek to know him, you still ask questions, and you learn to expect an answer in the form of a riddle, or simply a series of more questions. You cast your net wider, you learn to ask different questions, you start to question yourself.

At some point in this process, you change. You move. You lose someone, you gain someone. You take stock of yourself and rebuild a home around what you see yourself to be, what you think you might be becoming. He shows you a smile, shows you a different face. You find photographs of foreign landscapes that feel like home. You learn a new skill, you think more seriously about wool than you ever thought anyone would need to. You find pictures of sheep in the mountains, curls dragging like cloaks, bells jingling in distant wet air. You see him. You learn the word ‘transhumance.’ Your world widens, and there, again, there is the rush of information, the many faces, this time of rock formations and high pastures and seasonal processions and masks and wild men.

“This is not all,” he says. “Not all and not always.”

You look at yourself. You look at mythology, languages, remembered bits from the ends of semesters long ago, after the exams when you learned little snippets of culture as an addendum, for fun. You read about names, familiar to the ear but just different enough to be confusing, to make you understand that these faces are different. You think about figures with multiple heads. You read about gender, and fluidity. You look at yourself. You start to combine the pieces of yourself into something else, something whole. You are not still. You are changing.

You are not the same person at work and at home. You wear multiple faces, you make youself invisible in some spaces, so that you may flourish elsewhere. You put on armor as you ride the bus across the river, made of water and clay and moss and hide and metal. You change your face with the seasons. You think about fiber, and seasonality, and use. You transcribe bawdy puns from spindle whorls. You wonder what he wants with you, why you ever met. You ask him this, in a quiet moment. “Why me?”

“Why not?” he answers. “You were looking, you were changing.”

“I’m no one,” you say, as you have said to yourself a thousand times before, only now you hear the echoing roar of the thing that you carry with you, that you will always carry, and you can see perhaps more clearly that this is not entirely true.

“You are enough,” he says. When the winter comes, he lets you borrow his cloak. You dream of a city buried under ice, traveleing a continent, pushed by the weight of glaciers. You are still struggling to understand. It is a monumental effort to make space and time for yourself in this world, let alone make space for a god. You learn to work with what you have.

You invite him to sit with you in quiet moments, while you spin, while you pour your tea. You offer your burgeoning skills, you watch the color change from delicate pink to a deep and earthy brown from infusion to infusion. The room smells of rich wet dirt and warm sweet corn. There is the clink of porcelain, and the dripping of water on wood. He sips the tea you share, and smiles.

“Why sheep, though?” you ask. It could have been any number of things, you think you know this now. Sometimes it is a hawk, or a lion, or rabbits. Often it is rabbits.

He sets the cup down with a gentle chime, the small clear ringing. “They got your attention,” he says. “It was a start.”
You offer him tea, or beer when you can, and when you can’t you feel a little guilty but you reserve space for yourself, first, because your first job is survival. There are always the stories, the places in your mind, the myths that were never written. When you can, you give him words and pictures. There is not a rush of information, not like it was at the start. It takes years, and you are still getting to know him. You are still changing. And it is enough.

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