Through an expanse of years, shattering a divide of incredible distance, I listened to words of Michael Wood last night. He served as my guide we traced over the British and French landscape, as we traced back into the legend of Arthur, the Once and Future King.
Dr. Wood walks with us to the hilltop, overgrown with bushes and trees, only the faintest remnants suggesting an unnatural arrangement of stone ever stood watch here. Dinas Emrys, Fortress of Ambrosius, Tower of Merlin, Place of Emrys. Follow the broken wooden signpost hidden by a thatch of greenery. Climb to the top of that hill and be where the legend began.
Bedevere to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. Let us watch him float into the mists in the arms of his sister Morgan Le Fay as she bears him off to Avalon, our Once and Future King.
Dr. Wood walks us to the intersection of the Gaelic Fionn mac Cumhaill cycle of the magical sword, the cup of eternal life, and the king who will rise again and the Scotch-Gaelic war hero Arturius (Artúr mac Áedáin) who died in the battle at Camboglanna, a roman fort along Hadrian’s famous wall. Follow our guide into a gentleman’s potting shed where the relics of this historic site lie propped against the wall remembering a time when they had housed heroes who would inspire hearts for thousands of years to come.
My children know more about funerals than weddings. And just recently we were back in Idaho at the family homestead for another. Our family has its traditions. A remembering before the funeral, a potluck after. It’s a time for stories, a time to reconnect with family members you’d nearly forgotten you shared a story with at all. A time to remember you are not alone in all of this.
It can be a bit surreal, not just dealing with the unreality of the loss you’ve just been dealt, but that expansion and contraction of time where you share a closeness
just as much through what passed before your memory began as through what passed since last Christmas Eve—divorces, health scares, the blossoming of children into young adults, the fading of the parental guard into infirmity…or death.
And the loss of our story.
I can see that field of corn stretching on for miles under that vivid blue sky. I can picture the bull snake my uncle vacuumed out from behind the wash machine for my screaming aunt. I can picture the coyote that took down their loyal dog, because for him it wasn’t a game. It was survival.
It was survival. The fierce determination, the relentless drive that kept my mother, my uncles, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents chipping away at that ruthless land until they had claimed more than a thousand acres of sagebrush for fields and roads.
Because in the end, family is everything.
This story is ours.
Michael Wood's In Search of Myths and Heroes - King Arthur
Wikipedia: Dinas Emrys
A Date with Dinas Emrys
National Parks: Dinas Emrys
Wikipedia: Historical Basis for King Arthur
Wikipedia: Fionn mac Cuumhaill