On a clear day and looking out the front window of my friends’ living room you can see the hermitage, that is, if you know where to look. It is approximately half a mile from their house. You cast your gaze across farmer’s fields until your eye catches the wooden structure situated almost in line with their middle window. There the hermitage nestles beneath a magnificent backdrop of Ash, Beech, Pine and Oak, the woodland acting as its guardian protector. The panoramic view from the porch of the hermitage spreads its coat in splendor. And in spring if you listen carefully you can hear the cacophony of sound bringing forth new life.
A group of friends had been invited to spend a Sunday afternoon with John and Madeline’s at their house, an idyllic spot on the outskirts of Errill. The occasion was to celebrate the hermitage which was the culmination of a dream that our dear friend John had harbored for many a year. The thought, but only a second took, completion a little longer tucked away in procrastination’s workshop. We were asked by Brother John to set off on our short journey to the hermitage by foot, individually and at intervals of between five to eight minutes. A simple request from a brother to his friends before we began our journey to contemplate and later share the thoughts with pen and ink.
Our course was set a journey slightly longer than the ‘Crow flies’ starting from the lane-way until we reached the road. Looking for landmarks along the way that would lead us to the hermitage. I started Walking at a leisurely pace and soon overtook my companions; walking but not talking, lost in the moment, lost in space. I missed the yellow colored cottage were we should have turned right. I stopped to gather my bearings. My purpose was to find the hermitage, but where was it? I knew in which direction it lay, but could not see, my vision obscured by high ridges, my vision obscured by arrogance.
I waited for a couple of minutes to see if anyone was behind me and in the distance I could just about make out Sister Ita following in confident step for she assumed I knew the way. “I’m sure he said the yellow cottage was just around the bend” I said to her. The bend came and went with no yellow in sight. I was lost, but my pride demanded I take command. I stopped and turned toward my companion “we’ve missed the turn… I’ve missed the turn”.
She just smiled “you’ll find the way” she assured me. We walked on, stopping to catch our breath, stilled by the silence; broken only by the sound of voices echoing in the stillness of nature.
Listening with determined intent for the sounds of our friends voices carrying on the wind, we forced our way through ditch and muck with my size ten thick heeled boots.Through rugged hedges, and over fences we stumbled and fell like drunks without a care in the world. Arriving unscathed and last, cheered on by hearty friends.
I remembered this short journey in a short lifetime in an analytical, analyzing way; all the points covered until they became blunt and blurred, coming to no particular conclusion, only asking the question. Is there meaning in everything we do? And should we look for meaning in the moment? I don’t know. Why can’t we just be, and learn from our experiences through our experiences? I know personally that I’ll never increase my levels of awareness looking for external answers. We all need help, and maybe that’s what we’re here for.
One thing that struck me at the time was the irony of being first on the road to nowhere and ending up being the last ‘the last shall be first and the first shall be last’ is the first thing I thought of on reaching the hermitage. Nobody gets lost they just get mislaid, their journey may take longer according to another’s perception, but then again the journey we take may be the one that you need.
Michael Mullins © thesourcewritersgroup 25/10/2014