An Rathad – The Road
Read Time: 5 minutes
The road is deserted now. No one lives here. The hay has grown outside the fragmented fence and spilled from the field. The road tips up into the depths of the midnight sky and gently dips down to a creek. Then it levels off, followed by a treacherous climb. Upon reaching the top, during the day, one is regaled with a stunning view of earth and water; the lake spreads out in 180 degrees and the homes dotting the shore on the other side are vaguely visible. As one continues, the road slides down again into a valley with a river running through. It is not a straight road, but twists and turns in every direction.
A closer look in the hayfield, reveals the stone remains of a long-gone dwelling. Ceitadh and Ruairidh farmed this land for many years. One day in October, he set off in the small boat, to the nearest settlement for some provisions, accompanied by the youngest daughter, Kate. All went well on the journey, but upon return, the wind picked up wildly accompanied by rain and cold. Ceitadh watched in fear as the boat was pushed down the lake and out of sight. The following morning, the indigenous people of Membertou, found them on the shore near Main a Dieu, Kate lashed to the mast and dead.
How low must the valley have been for Ceitadh as the men brought Ruairidh and Kate into the home and laid them on two tables for the wake. People came from far and wide to mourn her loss and offer comfort and food. The pain of her valley permeated her life. She wept to the heavens, but soon after, in spite of her anguish, she went to work raising her family, the 3 remaining daughters.
With the help of her faith, the neighbours and her own back breaking efforts, she continued on her journey. She healed. Her road flattened out. She adopted a little boy, named Arthur, about 12 years old. Grateful for a loving home, he threw himself into the farm work alongside his sisters and mother. The children grew up. Two of the girls, went to Boston to find work in the elegant houses on Beacon Hill. The girl who stayed, Annie, married a local farmer who provided for them and build a new home as the family grew. Her 9 grandchildren were a joy to her life. Her road ascended.
In 1944, her oldest grandson, Rory, left for the battlefields of Europe. Once again in the valley, she was on her knees with sorrow, pleading for his safe return. “I do not want to die,” she said, “Until Rory comes home.” In the fall of 1946, his joyful return, brought her to a new mountain of happiness, peace and gratitude to the power who answered her prayers.
And so, wherever you are on the journey of life, remember that you do not walk alone. When the road takes you to the mountain top, look around, enjoy the view, inhale, smell the flowers and listen to the birds. Be grateful. As the road descends, find solace and surround yourself with those who uphold you as you wander through the valley. Be grateful; they are a gift.
You are not alone. Do not allow worry and anxiety overcome you; the valleys are temporary. That Great Spirit who created your inmost being and knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) walks on the road with you. You are precious and loved in His sight. (Isaiah 43). The road will level off and there will be other mountains and other valleys. Have courage; keep the faith.
Based on the life of my paternal great grandmother. Inspired by my visit with Arthur’s daughter last week.