I slink back into shrine like a teenager returning home well past midnight, guilty and full of half-valid excuses. Overtime at work for weeks on end leading up to early April, then burnout, then there was this other project, and I’ve been meaning to dust off the altar…

My Netjeru have been in my prayers every morning as I drive to work, but I feel the lack of seeing Them in shrine—of offering Them water and incense—like a hollow pit of nervousness. Too long “apart,” and I start to wonder if They even want me back.

Nonsense, of course. But still, I tiptoe around the edges of my shrine, washing my hands before I dispose of old candle tins and incense ashes. I place fresh candles and incense, gather simple offerings of cinnamon and chocolate, and take a breath.

I pour water for my akhu, my family, my ancestors. Happy birthday, Grama—I’m really sorry I missed the actual day.

I light a candle for my gods so I may see Them and They me. I love You, my Mothers, my Beloveds.

The smell of incense transports me instantly. There is no sense of time with scent-memory, and it’s like there’s been no long absence at all.

I recite Sekhmet’s heka and look at the firelit faces of my gods, grateful for Their continued presence in my life and for Their immortal patience. And it won’t be so long before I return again to this physical housing of my spiritual practice.