“The Road of the Loving Heart”

Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson

Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the death of Robert Louis Stevenson an interview of a Samoan chieftan was written around 1900 in Life magazine. Mr. Stevenson suffered from miliary TB and went to Samoa to ease his last days of suffering. He was so stricken over the plight of the people on this island that he used his resources and influence to better their relations between the tribes and current politics of the day. In turn they called him “Tusitala” or tale teller. In loving tribute, after his death, his Samoan friends hand carved  a steep road  from his monument on Mount Vaea, calling it “The Road of the Loving Heart”.

The article was lovingly re-written in the classic series of books the “Little Colonel” with a personal spin on this true story that changed how I view my actions toward other people around me. Annie Fellows Johnson, the writer, used this story as a  life lesson.  We all leave a memory road of ourselves.  What kind of memory road do you leave?  Is it a memory that is unblemished with strife? This IDEA captured me at the age of 12, and while I have done poor justice to living up to it, I try to keep uppermost in the mind the realization that each of us is precious and important to God, therefore we should treat each other with value, for who am I to judge what He has created?  People who are most successful with relationships have some kind of foundational value system that allows them to live the Golden Rule, or, Love/Value and Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You.

In my hospital we are going Back to Basics.  Technology has advanced to a point where the basic tenets of nursing: touch, bathing and care, have gone by the wayside.  So we are, hospital-wide, going back to therapeutic touch and bathing.  A gentle bath is a balm to a sick body, and peace to an anxious soul.  How much more to a sick and hurting child!  As a dialysis nurse I don’t give a lot of baths, but when we have children in our unit all day I certainly have stripped them down after they vomited all over or come in filthy from home.  Sometimes we need to go back to basics with our relationships as well.  Remember why we love them.  Give them a break.  Forgive.  Hug.

This is a poem in tribute to RLS and his service to the Samoans as told in Life Magazine c 1900:

Samoan bound, to life extend,

hopeful this climate would mend

diseased lungs near life’s end.

Stricken with their pitiful plight,

your gift of words full of might

peacefully aided the bloody tribal fight.

In gratitude, Tusitala, you were made brother.

A stricken “missionary”, yet like no other.

Your literary contributions, while vast

are as ashes to these actions, your last.

Your condemnation changed lives!

Truth teller, with words loving and wise,

you used your “Power of One”,

Though dying,  peaceful words this campaign won.

Upon death, a path through the island

was completed, through blood and tears, by hand.

Dedicated “The Road of the Loving Heart”

a loving tribute to your efforts on their part.

We all create a memory road

and choose what stones we will load.

Roads built smooth and stone free

are our true lasting legacy.

And my daily prayer will always be

that your memory road of me

is one filled with Christian harmony.


14 comments on ““The Road of the Loving Heart”

  1. You pass on an excellent message for us all in this piece. Well done Lori.

  2. Beautiful. One of the most therapeutic things I have ever experienced was a night nurse who silently have me a backrub when I was recovering from a painful surgery. I was so touched by her act of kindness. That became my standard for really good nursing, beyond the bare bones custodial functions. I have more nursing miracle stories. There is nothing in the world like a good nurse.

  3. A memory road sounds a beautiful tribute to RLS. I’d like a memory road to be strewn with acts of kindness done to me for all to see and maybe enough smooth stones to show I treated all with kindness , understanding and Hugs in my later years to make up for any rocky paths I may have unthinkingly created in my youth.
    xxx Massive Hugs Lori xxx

  4. Touch is greater than many medicines, compassion a great healer to the heart, the soul, and the body many surgeries. I know, I don’t get hugged. whaaaaa!

  5. that should say “than many surgeries.” See, I am suffering from a lack of hugging.

    • Go get a tree shirt that says “hug me”. You will be mobbed. Mostly by large women and the odd crowd, but when one is hug deprived, one cannot be too picky. LOL….. Virtual HUGS, LORI

  6. Wonderful post! Thought you might be interested in my short film “Death Is No Bad Friend” about Robert Louis and Fanny Stevenson in San Francisco: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/death-is-no-bad-friend/x/1089930 Best regards, G. E.

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