“Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind,” John Everett Millais, 1892, WikiArt.

Part 3: Recollections and Reflections (Last)

Within these verses, darkness cannot
Remain unstated, for with joy of serving
Christ, needy of Irish farmers, came great
Sorrows, grief imparting to my soul,
My marrow, molding who and what I am
Today. Decisions made, some of which
I question, never speak of, and those who
Witnessed tumults, look away, eyes to
Ground cast, when we meet on woodland
Trails. Ebb and flow of life, trembling hands,
Dare not read beyond this first stanza.

Illness, disease, famine, harsh winters, such
Pains I endured, living where others died,
Specially young and elderly, strength waning
Hardships, fevers took their toll. “What of
The dead?” I was asked, young mother, with
Lifeless child in arms. “Who will care for the
Dead?” “How many?” I asked, those standing
Nearby, heads shaking, so many I realized.
Harsh times brought disparate measures, by
Oxen cart we gathered them, into bog depths,
Shrouded bodies, we buried.

All were cold-frail, children, elders, limbs
Bone-thin, bodies emaciated, sunken eyes
Blank-staring. Who would we first lower into
Dark depths? Children were lightest, stone
Weighted, sinking, moments visible, then
To sunlight lost. Mother and child we swaddled
Fast together, stones placed along sore-infected
Legs, two bound in life, in death, for eternity
Lost. Grief of such solemn duties, some said
Twenty given to bogs, in one day perhaps, our
Lives forever changed. Of this, we never spoke
Of again, recollections night-waking.

“Charity,” Pierre Purvis de Chavannes, WikiArt.

Reflections months later, under heat of
Summer sun, what have I learnt? All things
Are in God’s hands. We are his servants,
Helping needy, simple kindness, open hands
And heart touches others in his name. Yes,
I have visited that bog; it, too has changed,
Minute flowers sprouting, buzzing bees, life
Continues. Occasionally, I find small crosses
Tied with yarn placed at water’s edge. Later,
Cloth-wrapped loaf of bread, same handcrafted
Cross left at my door. Divine vessels, we have
Grown in faith and friendship.

Thanks for reading this three-part Sister Muriel poem.

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