Attendant Spirits

Attendant Spirits December 24, 2012

Read Mark’s weekly reflections on The Huffington Post.

The modern use of the word “genius” refers to someone with a remarkable brilliance in one aspect of their capacities. We think of Mozart or Einstein or Michelangelo. But the original notion of the word genius meant “attendant spirit.” This was not reserved only for the gifted. Rather, it was believed that everyone has an attendant spirit. Everyone has a genius. This is where the word “genie” comes from. So each of us has our own genie, our own soul to guide us, if we dare to look for it, to listen to it, to stay in relationship with it. This poem speaks to this.


The angels around us, the ones

I’ve seen when too tired to think,

the one who twitches in my dog

when she sleeps, the one who rides

the sun through the fork in the oak,

the one who weighs the angry hand

open, the one who like a breeze lifts

the curtain of my eyes, the one who

flits like a dragonfly in the back of

my throat telling me it’s ok to cry—

they don’t come to help us out of

here. They quietly wait for the

storms of paradise to crack, for

the dreams we lean on to topple.

They soak up light and wait like

dew on grass for us to notice.

They slip in through our

smallest sigh.


A Question to Walk With: How would you describe your attendant spirit and how it speaks to you?

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