Historical Setting, 562 C.E. Gaul
To my surprise, words spent empowering an “essential peasant matriarch” with a mere candle of understanding brings her to tears.
“Do you think Ezra is sorry to be burdened with me and my gossipy sisters and my arsonly evil cousin, and my father who shouts at the neighbor’s noises even when they are cries for help in the night? Ezra’s whole family, you and Eve, all three of you are always, helping people in need and never casting curses. I come with noise and chaos and evil judgments! And Ezra never even complains. He just says, ‘don’t be afraid.’ What is that supposed to mean?”
“Maybe it’s the first three words of ‘don’t be afraid, I love you.’ That’s what the angels always tell us when they land in our midst and speak for God.”
“Yes! Maybe he heard it that night when he saw the lights of the great horde of angels descending over the fields. Maybe he heard it even though he says they were all facing the other way?”
“Yes, Colleta, maybe. But even before the angels since he was a tiny child he knew God’s love in the same way Daniel knows. Daniel speaks his prayers to God each night, does he not? Even though your son hears the imaginary stories people tell of creatures and curses and ogres he still knows it is God who is real, though invisible. Children just know these things. Ezra always knew. We who are adults either approve and nurture it or we fear it, and the child sees either the acceptance or the fear. The child learns from us either to speak freely of God and to God or to hide it away forever unspoken with pretend monsters and hollow creeds.
“Colleta, when Ezra first told me he found a wife he was amazed that an orphan with a lame leg and barely a claim to a field could be so blessed to find a strong and beautiful woman as you are. You don’t have to be afraid that he harbors evil thoughts of you. Ask him. Make him speak it aloud. You would be assured you are his dearest friend. God dares us each to love one another even beyond our own fears of rejection. Make Ezra tell you. I think he will speak to you the words that come after ‘Do not be afraid.’”
We walk in silence.
Dear God, Help my words land more softly than a simple meddling papa’s pontification. Amen.
We return to the door of the cottage.
(The story continues tomorrow)