Yalur bounded up the steep path with me in tow, her small frame nimbly ducking through lush vegetation until we reached an opening and paused to see the dark waters below. In the highlands of Guatemala, Lake Atitlan is unexpectedly vast and deep, and to the indigenous Tzutujil who live on its bounty, the most beautiful lake in the world. In the moonlight, surrounded by three terraced volcanoes, I had to agree.
When we reached her home, Yalur nodded for me to remove my shoes and kneel on the blanket she has folded for me. She prepared for our ceremony, focused and deeply silent, a medicine woman at work.
Yalur knew why I was there, though I didn’t have to tell her. She dreamed of my arrival two weeks before I came. We talked about the ancient art of the back- strap loom; how I collected old brocaded huipiles and hoped to give them new life, how I wanted the work to be understood and blessed by the women who had woven their stories into these pieces of cloth.
She had already taken me to to a small hut where I witnessed a ceremony called Sweeping Your Road. A family traveled hours from the coast to receive a blessing on a restaurant they were opening. Copious candles, rum and incense, tobacco, chanting, prayers - and fervant faces - that's what I remember. The Tzutujil believe it's important when beginning something new that your road be swept - behind you and before you. Yalur was doing this now.
She brushed my back hard with cedar branches, shaking my shoulders and whispering in my ears - first in Tzutujil, then in Spanish, then, for me, in English:
Grandfather Sky, Grandmother Moon. . . I am crossing over a threshold.
I am crossing over. . . crossing over.
Sweep my road, I ask. Sweep my road behind me.
Sweep my road before me.
Sweep my road free, so that I may walk upon it in strength and beauty.
That was fifteen years ago. Later, I wrote down her words; I stitched them inside the garments I made; and I return to them now as I embark on a new adventure. Ibu is starting down a new path - moving out into the world - and I want the path to be clear, blessed, prepared. . . the road, swept.
I am jumping. I am playing. I am dancing across the threshold, wrapped in blessing . . .
The words still shine in my ears, and so I pass them on to you. Because we all need to embark, from time to time, on adventures toward those new places that call to us, challenge and revive us. As you cross thresholds that await you in this new year, may your road be always swept by a Wisdom older than your knowing, deeper than your imagining. And may you Jump. Play. Dance. Wrapped in blessing. And under a luminous sky.
All the best,
Susan Hull Walker