The women of Jerusalem on the Hill of Kilnacross

Another beautiful reflection from Fr Jason Murphy in his column, Let the Busy World be Hushed. We should all remember that we can choose to lift people up or put them down..

The fresh greens of the far hills in the way beyonds of Monaghan, Fermanagh and south Tyrone was the view from out her kitchen window on the hill of Kilnacross. A patchwork of fields that goes on and on as far as the eye can see on a day when the sky is blue and the sun shines warm such as on that Good Friday when all lay silent.

Turbines in the distance that turn their sails along the road to Enniskillen 20 miles and more away seem a stone’s throw across the fields. They wave back in rhythmic motion as with Don Quixote of old o’er the townlands of Quivvy and Galloon along the river Erne, as the two gaze at the passing clouds from their chairs each side of the range.

The hum of Johnny O’Keeffe on Northern Sound from the bedside radio in her room below, that keeps her company before she sleeps; a candle lit on the table in expectancy for the priest to call, as she reads the stations of the cross from a little paperback prayerbook that the Missioners left behind.

‘The eighth station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem… we adore you oh Christ and we praise you for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.’

Words repeated with deep devotion as a little reflection is read at each stop along the Via Dolorosa as if they were standing in the midst of the crowd of women who journeyed with Christ each step of the way, that Friday in Jerusalem.

Here, many miles from the Hill of Calvary, these two friends kept vigil on another hill o’er looking green fields and thought on all who carried crosses in the townlands around or who, like Him, at times, fell along the way, not once, not twice, but three times; those who had the strength to lift themselves up and brush themselves off and others who could only remain lying face down in the sand.

These women prayed quietly for those who came to mind; Camilla who was no longer able to go about as freely as once she did and Mairead her loyal friend from the top of Windy Harbour who called each day in her passing. Their supplications were made with deep sincerity for each and all, like the women at the wayside, helpless to ease the sufferings of the passer by. But it is some comfort, knowing that someone was praying for you in that house along the road, just as Christ felt the presence of the women at the eighth station that day in Jerusalem.

“I pray for you every day,” she reminded as I called on that Good Friday and joined in their chat after the prayers were said and talked on the ways of the world, the births, deaths and marriages about Killoughter and Killylea and listened to stories of childhoods, along the River Erne and beneath Post Hill. Names like Jack Tummons and Texas Mick, Peter’s Paul from Bunanumery would all come alive in the shadows of the kitchen on that warm April day. And the smile that once warmed a room when she was young transformed her face and her eyes danced as her brother might call in the midst of prayers and tell a yarn to make her laugh so much so that she’d have to reach for the oxygen to catch her breath. And laugh and laugh she did, she loved to laugh as she was reminded of times long ago when she was young and oh so pretty, along the Quivvy Road, in the midst of neighbours full of spakes as she grew - the eldest of 12 in the idyllic house twixt the lake at Edenterriff and the lovely river Erne.

Aiden Fitz was her father who bought and sold pigs at marts across the country and told tales of lads in caps aclad who spat in palms before a deal was made and mistook this mad Fianna Fáiler for a brother of Tom Fitz, the TD, and asked many a time before the deal was clenched to put in a word with his eminent brother to get the grant to tar a lane or to get the water in. He played along until the money was exchanged for a couple of his finest hoggets.

She had a heart for people and came to know all too well what it was that suffering is, an anguish deep within that others cannot fully enter into. And, when you know what it is to lie face down in the sand and feel that you no longer have the strength within to face another mile, you then can truly feel what others feel - their pain, their heartache. You realise all too well how easily they can trip and fall, time and time again. So as we journey through the days to come and hear the story of that Good Friday told again, let us be reminded that we too can suffer, we too can fall, we too are not just passers by for we are called to be as the women were, participants in Christ’s story.


Lent is a time to look inwards