Running as I do on the edges of New Age circles, I own a book that encouraged me to seek out my spirit guides. I have met people in the healing arts who say they have angels and dead people, all manner of disembodied folk, hovering around their treatment rooms. Apparently these guides, if asked politely, will appear on demand to help you do your job. The book described a meditation I could do to meet some of these handy helpers.
I didn’t 100% think any spirit guide would talk to me, but there isn’t much to do on a sand dune when the electricity fails and your forgot to buy batteries. So one night when the lights went out, I lit a candle and gave it a shot.
I did what the book said. For a long time nothing happened. I thought I was asking politely, but no spirit guides seemed to be clamoring from beyond to make my introduction. To be honest, I’m not really sure my meditation wasn’t interspersed with bouts of plain old sleeping.
At one point, though, I lurched. Awake, but definitely in some degree of altered consciousness, the whole room was wavy, like a fun house mirror, and I thought, cautiously hopeful, that the helpers might step from the shadow.
I was still surprised though, when they really did!
The identity of the first guide is a secret, someone I once knew. I will only say I was surprised and pleased to see her again. “What a trip,” I though, “This is really happening. Let me try again.”
I felt a little foolish and unsure. I tried again, though, with a little more fake confidence, “Ahem. Um, excuse me, please. Is there another guide? Someone to help me live fearlessly (oh yeah, that’s good, I’m getting this) yes, fearlessly in the, um, tempest of love and, and beauty that I could have as my own world? A guide for daring me (really cranking now, I got louder, not even worried if I’d wake my Gram and what she might think of me) daring me to dive into Rumi’s ocean, ready to drown! ready to die again and again for pureness and passion! Will someone take me by the hand as I stride, nervous but hopeful, into the euphoric and hazardous sea of absolute love?!!”
Ahem. Hmm…a little over the top maybe. I looked around sheepishly and waited a long moment. I pictured the spirit guides drawing straws to see who would be stuck with…
I see her.
Wow a mermaid! I see her pale Irish skin and light brown hair, long and wavy, glints of golden red. She seems at first more human than fish..but then. There it is. The magnificent teal-green glistening tail. I see her plainly but I don’t know her name. I guess once, but sense right away that I am wrong. But then I know it: she is named Madeleine.
From what lost cavern of my mind did Eliot’s sleeping lines emerge then, suddenly awake and leaping into my ear. “I hear the mermaids singing each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.” I am filled with joy, remembering the sad years of my younger life when I loved that poem. Now, twenty years later, how thrilling to finally be singled out by mermaids!
Madeleine will invite me to go with them and I will say yes. She will sigh, and take me aside like a shy new classmate. See if she can fix me up. She will tell me it wouldn’t hurt to smile a little, and roll your pants up cuz we’re going in! She will lend me big splashy earrings that I never would have thought I could pull off. But I can.
She will hold my hand, then, as I walk till I swim, breathing green and salty water, gliding, disappearing down, down with Madeleine. The first time she will stay beside me, introduce me all around. She will make sure I get home all right. I know that she will help me, but I also already know that I will return alone again and again.
If I dive once, that lovely tail, silent and strong, urging me on, if I emerge into the land of the singing sea girls, I will return again and again, even if they look up, startled and aloof at first. Even if I might drown. Finally, though, I will join the chorus forever, returning to land only to soothe my panicky, non-swimmer self, let her cower in shallow water a bit, in times of wavering faith.
As quickly as it appeared, the vision vanished. I started and blinked, alone again in the night . The candle was out, but the darkness was still warm in the place where Madeleine had been sitting. It is still warm now from the vague knowing of a little known place in the ocean, where the waves dies away and tides are quiet, and my fish-girls are there still singing.