Callum Mor’s Awakening

 

Excerpt from Redemption                Order Book: http://www.ianprattis.com/Redemption.html

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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 snow 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. He stood and wondered and thought deeply for a sign of the child. 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 Callum 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. “I told you I would be waiting for you little one.” 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. Callum Mor 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 tendrils 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. He recalled his family at picnics and peats, the joy of dancing competitively with Moira and rabbiting with Donald. 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. His heart welled with love for his father. 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 and rested with his mother as she aged. He gave thanks for this child – fast asleep and warm within the insulation from the dead ewe. He offered respectful thanks to the ewe for enabling his little Catriona to live. 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.

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