May the road rise to meet you – Martin Stewart

Home Hills Rd

An Easter reflection on Andrew Norton’s photograph Home Hills Rd in Central Otago.  The Village Church in Christchurch hosted a collection of Andrew’s images and poems.

May the road rise to meet you.

That, of course, is the opening line of the well-known Irish blessing.  May the road rise to meet you.  It’s an interesting idea – the road rising.  Our usual take on things is that we do all the moving – the lowering of a foot as we lift the other in order to propel ourselves forward.  And the road is there for a purpose – to walk or drive on – functional.  May the road rise to meet you.

Every day I have looked at this image from Andrew Norton’s exhibition that our church hosted through Easter week, and all I have wanted to do is to step into it.  How many of us have walked on a road such as this at some point in our lives!  This road seems to reach out and invite me for a walk!  May the road rise to meet you.  It is like the road has risen just for me and my next step.

In the distance the road disappears – the hills loom – it is as if you have to engage with them not too far along where the road seems to run out.  You have to climb these hills.  It doesn’t matter how long or how well we avoid the hills of our lives – the steepness, the toughness – sooner or later to the hills we come.  A cross of sorts to hoist on our shoulders.

May the road rise to meet you.  Even on the hills of our lives then, the road plays a part in meeting us, accepting our steps upon it – even welcoming us – welcoming us like a long lost friend.

I like the language of the road transporting us, as in the means to get from here to there – this form shaped and dedicated for our movement.

I like to be transported.  I like what I see on the way – especially if the scenery is interesting.  I like the idea of knowing that because of that seeing, I will leave here, and arrive there enhanced in some way – transported – opened – richer.

I think of the annual Easter rhythms as an invitation to be transported.  On a road from betrayal to forgiveness.  From carrying the cross to the ultimate surrendering that Jesus uttered in his last words.  From full tomb to empty tomb.

This photograph seems to hold all those aspects of Easter together – light, darkness, easy, tough, beauty, threat, and always – always a horizon and the other side that we don’t get or get to unless we place one foot down while the other goes up, and walk on.

And in the walking the blessing of God making things new – the blessing of the road rising to meet you.

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May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.