I am often looked upon with sheer amazement when I tell people of our frequent relocation’s. ‘So you just go?!’ They protest. ‘Just like that?’ My answer always simply ‘Yes’. In fact I am always a little amazed in return at how few people would be willing to follow their partners just because they are simply asked. ‘But what will you do when you get there?!’ ‘Do you know whats its like?’ ‘What if you don’t like it?’. ‘Then I don’t’ I say. Paired with a nonchalant and ever so slightly indignant shrug of the shoulders. I do often see a look of disbelief in peoples eyes. ‘It cant be that simple’ their eyes shine out, and for many I understand its not. Much more comfortable to sit facing the view that its not I’ve come to understand. Humans you see, are terrible at letting go of things. Possessions, feelings, people, grudges. You name it, we generally throw it on the horse and cart it round with us. Until too heavy to bare, we get ever slower and increasingly baffled as to why. To be confronted with myself where upon I have learnt to open my palms and let things go like falling sand. Moving the way I do requires beyond the leap of the geographical and more immensely towards faith. But I often think of that catchy song in the ever popular Sister Act. ‘I will follow him, follow him where ever he may go!’. I may have to take a more theatrical approach when informing people of my gypsy lifestyle and simply break into song instead. It may convey the sentiment much quicker.
My eyes flickered as I began to make sense of the breaking cry. One of the children. Increasing now to a yelling sob through the dark and dark it was as I fumbled for a light that wouldn’t turn on. Power cut. ‘I’m coming! I’m here, I’m here’. In comparison to Harris whereupon power cuts leave you sitting in the dark for hours, eventually contemplating whether this has is in fact your new norm. The Scottish island of Islay has short, though more frequent power cuts, in which you are only plunged into inky treacle for forty minutes, maybe an hour or so. Shuffling across the landing, hail spat at the windows and the wind raged outside. Not unlike an angry drunk I thought, refusing to accept last orders has been and gone.The wind on Islay is also mighty different to what I had grown accustomed to on Harris. For on Harris the wind never left me. Either weathering my face to a ruddy glow or beating down my back, she had grown to be a strange life source and friend. A constant companion swirling round a mountainous cauldron. Dying down to moaning myrtle or rising up to a screeching beast. She was a torment. Like Jane Eyre’s mad woman in the attic she was ever present. The wind on Islay however, does leave me, and maybe my friend it is better that way. She is however by far more raged on her return. If I thought Harris would prepare me in good stead for other hebridean islands I was foolishly wrong. For the wind slashes along the flat land of Islay like burning fire. A caged wife, escaped. Running free with a single flame.
You are, I’m sure, as a great length of time has past wondering why we left Harris. But, reader, the truth is I cant answer those questions. Not because I don’t want to but because our answers are somewhat blurred. I couldn’t tell you when the mountains around me started to enclose. When the tears began to drip and the ache for Chris away for lengthy hours became something physical. I began to stare out of the windows onto the hills and sternly point out to myself that many would give limbs to change places with me. Until one day a still small voice replied ‘That doesn’t mean you cut off your own dear girl, it is time for a leap of faith’. Back out into the alien and unfamiliar, across the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. At last to Islay. At last, with relief, back to the Hebrides.
It all sounds wildly adventurous. And I suppose, when I am grey and older I will recall it through such a tint and relay it to have been just so. But honestly, its tiring. Is unsettling, it is hard work moving from place to place. I have learnt to need very little and take only basics. With only a small five door car, one gangling Labrador, two toddlers and whatever cat(s) we seem to have amassed at the time I have quickly learnt there’s little space for luxuries. Travelling cross country with your knees to your chin gets old pretty quick, I can tell you. But I have learnt that stuff, is just that, stuff. It cannot replace or fulfil human need or longing. Not truly. It does and will eventually just take up your time and money. And sooner than you think it will break or simply be older than the version your neighbour buys the following day. It is stuff, just that. So I have let things go, some freely and some with a firmer reluctant grasp. But honestly, I couldn’t tell you what most of it was looking back. Instead my minds hands have filled with stormy memories, ultramarine skies, heavy set coos and indignant sheep. The sound and feel of the wind and a descending black ink over the world that no matter how I describe it to those back home. I know they will never truly visualise. That is what I have learnt to pack. That is what I yearn to keep. So now I sit typing in the remote village of Port Charlotte, Islay. Heavily pregnant and counting down into the final hours. With its wild winds and faintly painted mornings. The village of Port Charlotte is similar to Cornwall in some respects but hebridean, without doubt, to the core in most. Its rows of white washed cottages and tubs of what I assume will be brightly blotted geraniums come summer stack tightly together against winters frozen bite. I have once again navigated my way round a new and unfamiliar place. There is always so much to do when relocating. People to ring. Ring back. Forms to fill and random items to get hold of. Reader I can honestly tell you that its all very ordinary. But it is in the ordinary tiny mosaic fragments of our lives, the mundane ins and outs of everyday existence that you will find great achievement. It is often that I turn to the pages of Ruth during these times of great upheaval and find simple but nourishing comfort. Having moved three times during this pregnancy alone is enough said. The book of Ruth is insignificant in size and quite easily would go amiss with the gentlest touch of a licked finger. Nothing very much happens within its paragraphs. Ruth leaves her family and follows her mother in law to a new village. Purely because she loves her and that is all she did. Follow. In this world of vast technological advancement it is often those that lead who are portrayed as the courageous. This is of course undeniable in many stories throughout history. Its what adolescents strive for, to be unique. Set apart. Influencing and leading. Some of us grow up and never loose it, certainly it is pushed upon us to stand out, dream big or go home. I have come to learn that societies view has a certain repressive quality when it comes to following those we love with humility. That to love, honour and obey is old fashioned. To humble ourselves is to pick the short straw. But I don’t think so. Not now. For she did not know it, but Ruth, in the humdrum woven strands of her seemingly ordinary life. Holding no great merit to the outside eye placed herself unknowingly in the direct line of Christ. A young girl following an invisible calling of footprints leading to a shepherd. And that reader is simply it, my answer. I will follow him. Follow him wherever he may go.
“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and you God will be my God.” Ruth 1:16
To Ruth, who followed.
Thank you to all of you who have continually followed our journey and supported the Island Wife blog for the last two years. It is wonderful to be back writing and I hope those who have once again clicked to read have enjoyed the next chapter. Lucy x