Completing the Puzzle


Have you ever neared the end of assembling a jigsaw puzzle when finding the final few pieces seemed as elusive as a cup of tea in the hall in Branch on boxing night? I have known that feeling for weeks as I’ve tried desperately to stitch together words and ideas and turns of phrases that would eventually, hopefully, meld together into this blog, just as a scrumptious stew is created from imprecise measures of the perfect ingredients . I had an abundance of ideas but was slack on the inspiration. Then Julie Anne walked into Mass. It was a regular Sunday morning, imbued with a striking sense of fellowship. The cool air. The splash of colour on the floor from the stained glass. Donny having a quiet chat with Walter. Carolann sitting in the back pew, resplendent in turquoise and navy. The sense of home I experienced walking into the Church that morning was deliciously familiar. I was able to pinpoint my sense of belonging with a preciseness that was almost GPS specific. The puzzle was on its way to being solved. Day by day and moment by moment following the Julie Anne epiphany, moments and experiences followed that drew me in, nudging me and my pen ever closer. A few days later the capelin started to roll. For me , being on the beach at the rolling of the capelin holds a pilgrimage- like quality. Hearing about their sunrise arrival on high tide, I made multiple attempts to find them. Then, one morning last week, the clock alarmed at 4 AM, shouting “Priscilla get up. The capelin have arrived.” Excitedly I drove through a pre-dawn Easter’ Cove to the beach to find that the moonlit waves had kept their promise. There they were. Determined not to take a life before daylight, I threw the dipnet aside and collected the already expired capelin as I were collecting small jewels, admiring their silvery beauty and remarkable spunk. The sun rose an hour later at 5 AM to find me sitting contentedly on a cooler full of capelin, aware of my blessings and bathed the cliffs in a warm golden light. The puzzle was almost complete. And then, as the week ended, so did the rich and rooted story of a Branch man as Austin passed away. Having spent most of his life here, Austin wanted to return home to be laid to rest. During his wake, I kept thinking of the value of home,of there being one place in the world that you know and that knows you. The last few weeks have been full of homecomings. Julie Ann returning, even for one Sunday, to where she always proclaimed her faith. Austin returning to his birth place one last time. Even the capelin choosing to throw themselves in on the back of the beach to continue a miraculous life cycle. That was a homecoming in and of itself. And so the puzzle was completed. The ideas and words attached themselves to one another. The story was written and it’s the story we tell and share and talk about and sing about without ceasing. The story of coming home.


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