Historical setting: 562 C.E. The site of the Cathedral Fire in Tours
I have a suggestion for the young aristocrat. “If there is to be no rebuilding we could just turn this ash over with the clay saving the flowers of these weeds to make this place a great meadow of flowers! Imagine the wonder in that beauty! People will come here again for prayer and sanctuary where once there was only ash and here will be new life rising up, blooming beautiful, breathing life from light! Even the light and the life are metaphor for the invisible God.”
“Fie, such heresy! An Arian merely humanizes the Christ. What heresy might this be called that sanctifies wild weeds and light?”
“Really Friend George, we don’t need to summons a council of bishops to make another declaration of anathama. I’m not suggesting some kind of pantheism or pagan nature worship. Flowers are a metaphor. Of course, seeing the invisible through the metaphor of beauty requires opening one’s eyes to the power of symbol.”
Dear God, why do I long to defend your free gift with an argument? Guide me to receive this insolent fellow in your way, with relentless love anyway. Amen.
“I was just saying flowers would be beautiful here. So, Brother George, what would you have me do to be useful here?”
“We should take great care to preserve these ashes.”
Then he draws from beneath his tunic a plethora of metal pieces — each noosed around his neck by chain or rope: first the familiar cross, then a bejeweled fleur de lis; a smithy’s rendering of a Chi-Rho with its prongs in all directions and a small but dazzling golden peapod. It is the pod he means to show me now. It is a locket that he would open if I cared to see his relic of dust of a “lesser-known source than could be these ashes;” and yet he tells me this relic has taken his father safely through trials, strengthened his mother against a flame and has miraculously preserved his own life from threat of dangerous bolts of lightening in a horrific storm. (Footnote)
He adds, “It be here a true and blessed amulet empowered with the miraculous spirit of a saint. And here before us were a whole expanse of sacred ash.”
I should just nudge him lovingly into fearless faith making need of charm pointless. Dear God, guide me …
(Come again tomorrow.)
[Footnote: The young Frankish aristocrat in this fiction is drawn from a non-fictional source that includes this detail regarding the golden pea relic. This document was retrieved Oct. 19, 2019 https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/Gregory-hist.asp ] In 573 C.E. Gregory of Tours was ordained Bishop of Tours and his voluminous writings include historical tidbits about the Franks and much hagiography of his own times and before. At least three editors I have noted, for one: Alexander Callander Murray, editor and translator of the Gregory of Tours text published by Broadview Press, 2006, have questioned Gregory’s history. It is a reminder that history is neither standard nor stagnate. The dearth of provable fact is not just the flaw of a fiction writer’s imagination.