Jun 14, 2010
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like in ancient Ireland where danger lurked everywhere and just surviving was a challenge. Here's my imagination running wild:
The forest above his head is so thick that sunlight only glimmers in as though through a sieve. If he cannot reach the monastery before nightfall he’ll be doomed to wander about aimlessly in the dark and pray that his pursuers will not find him. A bell tolls in the distance, calling the monks to prayer. He is close.
His heart pounds a rhythm like the ancient beat of an ancestor’s drum, a song that holds the memories of the lives of those who went before him. He’d disgraced them, but the penalty should not be his life. There are laws to protect him from an unfair sentence, but he will not have his day in court if he does not reach the sanctuary boundary before those he’d wronged find him.
As he hurries, dodging brambles of blackthorn, he keeps an eye heavenward. Eventually the forest cover will give way to sky and then he will see them, the magnificent crosses.
A hound cries in the distance--his pursuers. They will just as soon run a spear through him as to seek true justice. The ground softens under his leather shoes. The sacred yews leading to the monastery cannot be far away.
The sun grows warmer on his back. The end of the forest is now in sight as he keeps his focus ahead. Soon he is leaping through tall grass and heading toward the ancient yews that will lead the way.
Voices behind him grow louder. Now that they are in a clearing, his enemies will gain ground with their horses and chariots. His feet ache. His knees beg him to stop, but he dares not. In the distance a massive structure casts a long shadow—the cross that marks one corner of the sanctuary.
The hound’s cry is near and it will soon be nipping at his heels. Tears stream down his face.
He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever.
A few more paces. He can make it. The dog lunges at him, but misses, tripping over a stone or maybe a tree root. Soon the beast is back on its feet, coming harder. The man races through the shadow of the cross and keeps running. A whistle calls the hound back. He has made it. The monks will shelter him until his case can be fairly judged. Praise be to God!