Historical Setting: 561 CE, Gaul
“Know I love you Eve. Know you are loved.”
I learned those rich and true words of a parent to child by listening for answers to my own gnarly and riled prayers. In times when I believe the world hates me I unfurl my ugly smudge of self to the Creator of love itself, and pouring back over me like the whole river un-damned comes flooding, cleansing, lifting, floating me like a fallen log, flowing me in God’s love – ‘know I love you Lazarus – know you are…’ There is no end or boundary — nothing I can do or say can take me beyond God’s reach. That is how I know to love my own children. Now that nineteen years have passed between us I still wish more than anything else that they may know well this parent’s love.
Nineteen years ago it was when my wife nestled the new baby, and I took the three boys and little Eve, just eight then, to the river’s edge to skip rocks and explore the wonder of water running through. Young Laz would take all his 10-year-old muscle and fling a flat stone across the still water in the center of the river and Eve would giggle into a fit of sillies each time it popped up and skipped again. The little guys, the five-year-old twins would follow the lead of their big brother and plop a stone right down into the depths with no magical skips at all. Just a thud and a splash. But that was fine. I mean, what else is there ever, but to make a splash?
It was odd that day when a ship of soldiers came up the river and dropped anchor at our doorstep. We wondered at its size and fearsome bow. We thought they came into our valley by mistake looking for a war that wasn’t. Then we met their enemy face-to-face and it was plague.
I have longed to touch my wife and hold the baby, for one more giggle of children – I have grieved so for lost splashes and murmurs – the “I love you’s…” and now I learn that Laz and Eve lived through all of it, alone without a mother or even this father to love them no matter what.
(Story continues next Tuesday Nov. 12)