Historical Setting, 562 C.E. Gaul
“So, Colleta, you fear I’m excusing evil by speaking a possibility that Jesse might not have burned down the church? In truth I’m simply withholding my judgment while I wonder at the possibility that the fire could’ve simply been carelessness. How can we choose a culprit and judge an act to be evil amid a reality that neither of us knows?”
She knows. “When you don’t know what is true you still have to decide where to put your measure of justice. And you’ve never even met Jesse. So how can you guess he isn’t evil?”
“I’m making no judgment of him at all. But it does seem unlikely it was a crime and not an accident. I mean, there are the thick walls and the people around and the terrible storm and Jesse also had other huge concerns that night. And besides how could someone keep a flame lit carrying it so far and into the church in wind and ice?”
“He wouldn’t have to bring the flame. There were all those candles lit there left from the Mass.”
“So, you are saying that the flame was already there and unattended? That seems to make it one more possibility that it was an accident.”
“But what of Jesse? He was cursing and threatening evil against Christ. My father heard him shouting at his wife’s father’s door! And what of the storm that came down just then to judge him?”
“Was it Jesse who was judged by the storm? The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. We can hardly use a storm as a window on holy retribution.”
I can see my rational thoughts are distressing Colleta.
“Papa Lazarus, why do you choose to side with Jesse? He’s my own cousin and I know he was looking to bring a curse down on all Christians. And what if his next wife is a troll?”
The pain of this “what if” touches her more personally than any thoughts of an ashen church. Wisps of gossip and secrets of blame now take on a form of the actual personal fear. She harbors the fear of being replaced in her own family’s love by this … this one whom the rumors spun by her most trusted sources, her own sisters, call a troll. Colleta whimpers into sobs.
(Come again tomorrow)