We used to sit until late at night in a café in Lourdes. I was a pilgrim on the sacred Road of Rome and still had many more days to travel in search of my Gift. She was Brida O’Fern and was in charge of a certain stretch of that road. On one such night, I asked if she remembered having felt especially moved when she arrived at a particular abbey that forms part of the star-shaped trail followed by Initiates in the Pyrenees. “I’ve never been there,” she replied. I was surprised. She did, after all, have a Gift. “All roads lead to Rome,” said Brida, using an old proverb to tell me that Gifts could be awoken anywhere. “I walked my Road to Rome in Ireland.” During our subsequent meetings, she told me the story of viii P ro l o g u e her search. When she finished, I asked if, one day, I could write it down. She agreed initially, but whenever we met after that, she kept raising obstacles. She asked me to change the names of those involved; she wanted to know what kind of people would read the book and how they would be likely to react. “I’ve no idea,” I said. “But I don’t think that’s why you’re creating all these problems.” “You’re right,” she said. “It’s because it seems to me such a personal story, and I’m not sure anyone else would get much out of it.” That’s a risk we’re now going to take together, Brida. An anonymous text from the Tradition says that, in life, each person can take one of two attitudes: to build or to plant. The builders might take years over their tasks, but one day, they finish what they’re doing. Then they find they’re hemmed in by their own walls. Life loses its meaning when the building stops. Then there are those who plant. They endure storms and all the many vicissitudes of the seasons, and they rarely rest. But, unlike a building, a garden never stops growing. And while it requires the gardener’s constant attention, it also allows life for the gardener to be a great adventure. Gardeners always recognize one another, because they know that in the history of each plant lies the growth of the whole World.