Journals and Letters week 7: Hardship on the Ohio
Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters“: page 45 to page 53, where we find Mother Theodore and her companions having to endure a miserable trip on the Ohio River. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin‘s writings every week in the coming year.]
“There was no alternative; we had to bear it.” (46) Reading Mother Theodore’s account of the first part of their journey down the Ohio River made me feel so bad for these women. The steamboat was small and crowded. There were not enough beds. This forced Mother Theodore and her companions to sleep on straw with no bedding on the floor. She felt humiliated and mocked by the other passengers. She was stubbornly determined not to lay down on the floor. But knowing they had no choice, we see her once again lean on her faith. “Before I could make up my mind to do so, however, I went on deck and threw myself on my knees to beg God the grace to bear this humiliation. I returned more calm and put myself on half of one of the straw beds; my Sisters did likewise.” (46) I loved how she put aside her own feelings and stepped up as a true servant leader of this courageous group of women.
Beauty and danger
Not all was bad. Mother Theodore commented in great detail on the beauty of the river and the hills along the shore. (47) Having lived in Portsmouth, a city along the Ohio River that she likely passed by, I can attest that her account of the scenery was spot on.
Things improved once they reached Cincinnati. I was, however, shocked when Mother Theodore wrote about “the multitude of enemies athirst for the blood of the French” (48) only to find she was comically referring to the hoard of mosquitoes they encountered that night. You really got me Mother Theodore!
They journeyed on to Madison, Indiana. Here they waited to meet Bishop de la Hailandière who arrived on the evening of Oct. 1. (49) This was especially exciting for me because she is now into October. I know they are just weeks away from their final destination.
I was also touched by so many things towards the end of this section: Her excitement on receiving the sacrament of confession. (50) Her acknowledgement and appreciation of the Sisters of Charity who graciously offered them hospitality. (51) And her positive description of Louisville, Kentucky (51).
As difficult as the start of this portion of the journey was, I am so relieved that it ended with optimism and joy. “This was a great joy to us and filled us with gratitude to God, who had protected us in His goodness during this long and perilous voyage.”
Share your thoughts!
Why do you think sleeping on straw on the floor was humiliating to Mother Theodore? How did that make you feel?
Are there other parts on this section that you especially liked? Why?
As you get to know her better what traits do you admire? What surprises you?
Next week > Nov. 28 week 8: page 53 In Indiana to page 60 The Journey’s End