Historical Setting, 562 C.E.
At my last leaving, I was near death, so I went with a great purpose that these children could live. But now it is different. I’m not the useful and needed person among them so I’m wandering off to Tours that I may not be like the guy in the Luke Christmas story: the tax burden in the shadows who brings the lineage with the stem of ancient Hebrew patriarch and makes the whole perilous journey just to be counted by Rome.
At the monastery if they won’t allow a true heretic among them scribing gospels in their scriptorium I can offer myself as a builder. I can repair the burnt church. And in that other way I’m also thinking of Joseph who gifts me with the carpentry skills I learned from Jesus when we were both so new to earthly skills. I first found Jesus a friend when as children we were shadowing that carpenter patriarch in our childish pretends for learning. Jesus learned a trade. I learned friendship.
This day I’m also thinking of Jacob traveling to a place he knows already but wrestling through the night with the promises made to God when stacking stones in order to make peace of an earthly relationship. And God, wrestler, rescuer, breath of life moving among the stones, living presence in stones crying out, asks us only to choose if the touch we know so well is a hug or a wrestle.
At this parting I take each of these my family, wrap them in my arms, feel their warmth and the beat of their life in tempo with my own heartbeat and the oneness of us.
Ezra, my strong and lame son who prunes the vine and nurtures the root — his arms wrap me in belonging too as I draw him closer to me. Eve’s hug is awkward and Colleta’s contrived, dutiful, but shared. It is a simple habit for Daniel and Celeste; and Margey has never known a moment without the embrace of her loving family. It is as we all are stone-on-stone a cairn for the living breath of God to move among us always.
When I visit my wife on the hill above us here, I will take her favorite yellow flowers again, and I will stack another stone on her grave, as is my own Jewish tradition for grieving the parting. Surely our love lingers.
Dear God, keep watch among us while we are apart. Thank you. I love you too. Amen.
(Continues Tuesday, February 18)