Callum Mor walked directly to the edge of the fell. He did not look for the child but for the direction animals would take for shelter. He was very still, his keen sense of nature’s rhythms directed him. He searched for signs of sheep,
tracing their paths to shelter, knowing Catriona would have followed them once she saw her danger. He plunged into drifts and struggled painfully out of them. He strained every sense so that he could hear and feel. He found several sheep huddled together in numerous places but no Catriona. His eyes were drawn to a lie of the land beneath the snow that he instantly saw Catriona would take. He walked steadily to it, feeling drawn by his senses and then he found her track, in concert with the steps of a sheep. He found them together, the child and the ewe, in a shallow cave overhung with rock and turf.
She was blue with cold and the exposure to nature’s indifference. He knelt beside her and felt fear at her lack of recognition of him. He blocked out the snow with his strong body and willed life to the child. He offered up a prayer of gratitude for the finding of her and crooned softly to her in his own language, singing Gaelic lullabies to her. He must not lose her. The ewe stared balefully at CallumMor and stamped her foot. He spoke softly to the creature, knowing that he would need her if they were to live. His voice came softly through the layers of fear and cold that entrapped Catriona. She heard his gentle voice and stirred a little. He sat beside her, noting her dullness of response, slowly warming her hands in his, gently rubbing her thin knees that were cold, so cold. Then he dressed her in the additional clothes of hers that he carried in his pack. The snow was whipped into a whirling blizzard by a wind with no mercy. He knew they could not leave their shelter that night and they must live. His jacket and coat were wrapped round the huddled pitiful form of the child and he held her to him for warmth. The ewe was impatient to leave for fear of them but feared the blizzard more. CallumMor talked to Catriona about what they would do. They must live. The ewe would give itself to them so that they could live. She must understand this. Catriona nodded while he explained to her that he was going to kill the sheep and then gut it so that she may be placed inside for warmth so he may have his jacket and coat and not freeze. She nodded with the wisdom of a seven year old, concerned only that the sheep would not suffer. “No, my Catriona, the ewe will not suffer.”
He spoke softly to the animal and touched it gently at the ears. The ewe ceased its trembling and relaxed and while he talked to her he took his fisherman’s knife and swiftly cut its jugular. While it died, his own numbed hands were restored to life by its warm blood. He gave thanks to the ewe for her life. After gutting the animal, he slit it open from the breast bone to the tail. He placed the child inside the dead carcass and she was insulated from the freezing touch of the blizzard. Mercifully she slept. A sleep of one who knows they are to be delivered. He sat with his jacket and coat loosely about him, creating a pocket of warm air that would resist the freezing will of the storm. He breathed slowly and deeply, using the least energy as he sat there.
His life went before his eyes and he smiled gently as he saw his childhood and island nurturing. And his teacher, Rachel MacDougall, was there in his mind’s eye. He smiled in gratitude for the freedom she opened in his mind. He had received so much. His expression did not change as he thought of his father, Andrew, driven to madness by events he could not overcome. He knew it was love that had driven his father to such lengths. He recalled the patient love of his mother Annie and the winter expeditions to the mail boat as their major weekly outing. He understood the warring factions in Brett MacVicker and felt grateful that this man, who killed his brother, should have shielded his darkness from him. His thoughts drifted as he gave thanks for this child – fast asleep and warm within the insulation from the dead ewe. He grieved at the wreckage he had turned himself into with drink, not for what he did to himself but for the pain he had inflicted by rebuke and indifference on people who only loved him. He dozed in the cold for only a moment. His mind kept him awake as he thought of the child Catriona and her mother and father. In the knowing of them they were as gifts to return him to himself. As morning light shafted through the darkness, he lost his self-contempt and saw compassion as the saving grace of both himself and his fellow man. In that long night of freezing cold and driving blizzard his mind led him to these and many other paths and levels of his life. His suffering dissolved as his compassion grew. By morning he arrived at full self-knowledge – a state of enlightenment that he remained in for the rest of his days.
He had no regrets, was without fear, simply filled with a deep well of compassion and love that had always been within him. He took his time sorting these insights with his mind that was now working with clarity about his life journey. He saw clearly how it had brought him to this state of emancipation.
The blizzard had ended. Catriona was awake and alive and drew from the new strength and calmness that CallumMor now possessed. He used his fisherman’s knife to hack strips of fleece from the sheep to bind their feet and hands and wrap round her knees. Layers of fleece were thrust inside her cardigan and his jacket to keep them warm. They left their small cave after Catriona gave a special prayer to the dead ewe that had saved her life. The snow had gently moulded Nature’s indifference into a smooth quilt but he knew the way to the edge of the fell. They had been walking for an hour, helping and encouraging one another, when a shout turned them. There was her father, Tom, leaping through the snow to them, laughing and crying in relief that they were safe. He was haggard and wild eyed and near frozen but the two gave him life. He held Catriona to him and looked long and lovingly at CallumMor without speaking, taking his hand in his. He was overcome. He said very simply, “I could not have lived if I had lost you both.”[tx_divider size=”24”]
About the Author
Ian Prattis is an award winning author of fourteen books. Recent awards include Gold for fiction at the 2015 Florida Book Festival, 2015 Quill Award from Focus on Women magazine and Silver for Environment from the 2014 Living Now Literary Awards. Julia Ann Charpentier says his: “admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity.” Of his Gold for Redemption Anita Rizvi calls it “a riveting novel chronicling one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation.” She goes on to say, “What is so exquisite is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition . . . he refuses to ‘sanitize’ experience.” He depicts the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to Redemption. His poetry, memoirs, fiction, articles, blogs and podcasts appear in a wide range of venues.
A Poet, Global Traveler, Professor Emeritus, Founder of Friends for Peace, Guru in India, and Spiritual Warrior for planetary care, peace and social justice. Zen teacher since 1997, he offers public talks and retreats all over the world. Ian lives in Ottawa, Canada and encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the planet may be renewed. He mostly stays local to help turn the tide in his home city so that good things begin to happen spontaneously.
Full Profile at http://www.ianprattis.com