At the end of a long day of gathering stories and packages of knowing, a circle under baking sun and beside wind-whispered stories: “Don’t leave your spirit out there,” he said, affably, one eye on the eagle floating in the distance. “Sometimes we leave our spirit behind.” And a girl seeking home for years finally understood where she had left her spirit years past and would need to go collect it in order to move on.
They say stories stalk us:
Maybe twenty two when I confessed to my Uncle Charlie that I wasn’t really answering my calling, and he said, “So why aren’t you?” And I couldn’t answer. Really.
Twenty years later, an Elder who adopted me into his circle told a story of his Charlie, and said, “The ancestors are there when we ask them to be.” I looked for my Charlie, but he wasn’t in the chokecherries. Nor was he on the steep hill out of the valley where I huffed for breath and laughed with neighbors about maybe needing to pick that old fitness regime back up again. He wasn’t floating on the wind with the eagle who came to visit out our final circle. But he sure was on the bus on the way home, and nudged me gently, “Are you answering your call?”
That uncle who first showed me how to not get lost in the woods. The uncle who passed before I got to know him as a grown up, who saved a thousand lives, judging by the former students who attended the memorial service. My Charlie sure did meet me on the sunbaked prairie, and nudged me toward my north.
It takes a lot sometimes to move off what we think we know and for years I found home in pushing back on impossible. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s stories, stalking, but I find myself pushed off what I knew to be true. The stories have always been there, calling. I just couldn’t hear them. Really. “The truth about stories is that’s all we are.” But sometimes they’re carried by the wind that blows hard for six hours under prairie sky and leaves my skin pink in spite of SPF60. The stories are stalking if one just sits still long enough to listen.