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"Only the Breath is Holy." Rumi

Tikal, Guatemala
Guatemala in 1973 was a visceral, poetic awakening, a colorful, lively haven of old-world kindness and hospitality. Hobbling through the dense rainforest, the bus that would take us to Tikal strained with its enormous, undistributed weight until the distant mist loomed an ethereal vision of the Temples of Tikal.

The first morning, we explored the jungle depths, the fragrance of fertility and the call of exotic birdsongs with giant blue butterflies disguised as soaring morning glories. I took an afternoon nap while Jessie happily swam with my companion in the pool outside our bungalow. In a deep sleep I was startled to hear a voice urgently calling my name. I raced out to the pool. Jess was nowhere to be found! Then I caught a glimpse of a shadow submerged in the corner of the deep end of the pool. We dove in, but we were too late. I have no words to express this moment. Time simply stopped, and I stood paralyzed holding my lifeless baby in my arms.

Then as fate would have it, an ancient being suddenly stepped from the jungle depths. We instantly locked into a gaze that said, “yes.” He took Jessie in his arms and performed his rites as if breathing and singing him awake. He moved his hands through his light body and then, as Jessie abruptly stirred, he began expelling the volumes of water caught in his little lungs. The old man placed him gently back in my arms while I continued assisting his breathing and keeping him awake. When I turned to thank the Old One, he had vanished.

Eagle Woman
That night, sitting in our bungalow, Jessie’s luster returning, he whispered to me, “Mum, you aren’t my real mother.” “What do you mean honey?” I asked. “I saw old people down there,” he replied. When he finally slept, I stayed awake in the stillness of the most unimaginable gratitude, aware only of his breathing. All else had been stripped away.

I pondered, do the Old Ones dwell in these sacred realities and open to us when we die to this one? Did Jessie’s ancestral legacy inhabit this realm? And what of the Old Man? The gate through death had opened into a mystical realm that day. We had both been blessed, Jessie in his reconnection with his ancestors, and I, in my renewed awe of the soul’s invisible mastery guiding our lives. I wondered . . . are the cornerstones of our destinies laid in another time so that we can meet one day where only souls meet?

Next Story ~~> Moving to New Mexico

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