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  • Writer's picturecherylmurfin

Dear Wind

Updated: May 23

The walk from Jedburgh to Morebattle (pronounced Moooor bottle by the Scots) took us through the village of Crailinghall, along the Dere Street Roman Road, and eventually to Cessford Castle, where the local laird (lord) reigned for far as the eye could see from his bedroom window. And it returned us to the bogs, but what is the inward writer's journey without some mess and muck?

The day before, we considered the word 'body' as we walked. What, specifically, did we feel in our bodies? What was the sound and shape of each ache? The third day is always the place where you "feel the walk," so it's the perfect time to consider how what you physically feel might contribute to your writing. Another version of the word body, of course, is embodiment. To take into the body, to feel fully. So, if you are reading this in the hope you'll be prompted to write, GO! How might the words body or embodiment enter your writing today?

But back to the fourth day of walking. The carried word is one of my favorites: Sacred. I never tire of this word and the myriad ways I encounter it in my life. I attach no specific faith tradition to it. What is sacred to you? What does the word even mean? Can you see or feel that thing, whatever it is to you, as you walk in a strong wind along an old Roman road? 

I looked up the word, a good tool for nudging writing and navel-gazing: 

Sacred: of god, blessed, that which is held dearest, filled with immaterial spirit, a place of deep meaning, symbolism, heart. 

The word offers much to work with on a four-hour stroll. Barely on the path, I realized it was the word that embodied my experience of my mother's last breath.

In the days before she passed, my mom was in and out of cognition. Still, she recognized my brother, sister, aunt, and her grandkids. Close to the end, she said my brother's name, made eye contact, and said "I love you" to him. Clear as a bell. She recognized my sister and my aunt in the same way. "I love you." But finding my name was difficult for her, and my "I love you" never came. I knew this was due to the stroke. I didn't take it personally. 

But looking back, I can see that something in that lack of recognition hurt. My heart ached to hear my mother say "I love you" to me. When the stroke pulled her under, and we heard no more words, I understood this was something my mom could no longer give me.

The night she died, she remained closed off to us, as she'd been for three days. Her eyes stayed shut, her breath rattled, and she received high doses of morphine, Ativan, and several other drugs aimed at easing anxiety and pain. There was not way to tell if she was still with us in any emotional way. 

But I knew she could hear. So, I crawled into bed beside Mom as my brother lay his head near her lap at the side of her bed. I whispered happy memories to her and told her jokes. I am sure he was doing the same in his silent way. We played her favorite music. 

This was a sacred space. Witnessing her liminal dance, the mysterious borderland between here and there, felt like a high honor.

Sometime in the middle of that long night, my brother lay down to rest, as he should after his many days on watch. Soon after, as an aide rolled Mom to her side, I placed my hands on her cheeks and put my face as close to hers as I could. These turnings were uncomfortable, and I wanted her to know I was there.

"You are well, Mom," I assured her. "This is an easy flight. We are all here to see you off and so excited for you to get to the place you are going." 

My mom believed in heaven and felt sure my beloved husband would be waiting for her. I am not sure about these things, but I held her heart between my hands, and I dreamed with her. 

Suddenly, her eyes opened, and she looked at me for the first time in days. She looked straight into me like I was the surprise she didn't know she'd been hoping for. I understood that she was seeing all of who I am, who I have been, and who I will be—from the advent of my first cell to the death of my last. I felt her pride and compassion and joy. And, at that exact moment, I saw all of my mother—who she was, had been, and will be. In one brief look, I felt the strength of the tether that connects us, living or dead; I was filled with indescribable compassion and love. 

She said something to me—I can't know what because she made no sound—but in the moment, what I heard was "I love you."

What is sacred? Of god. Blessed. That which is held dearest. Heart.

My mother gifted me with the most sacred moment of her life, and my life has become more sacred because of this gift. 

The stretch into Morebattle was gently sloping along a mostly empty road. I started the walk feeling empty. I arrived feeling full.




The mid-walk prompt today came from Laura: 

Make a new friend. Go into the woodland and choose something in nature that speaks to you—a tree, a leaf, the ground, a rock, a stream, whatever calls to you. Befriend it. Have a dialogue with that thing. Ask it questions. Tell it about you. Then write to or about your new friend.

Dear Wind 

(Inspired by St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)

Wind above me

Wind beneath me

Wind around me

And wiithin me

Wind to my right 

And to my left

Wind in my seeing

Wind in my breath

Wind before me

And behind

Wind in my movement

And in my mind

Wind in over ocean

Wind over moor

Wind in the silence

Wind in the storm

Wind to guide me

And release me

Wind to carry me

And to keep me

Wind in my waking

And in my sleeping

Wind in my going

And in my keeping

Wind at the center

Wind at my shore

Wind at the house

Wind at its door

Wind in my living

And in my dying 

Winding in my falling

But also in rising

— Cheryl Murfin

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