Historical setting: 562 C.E. Gaul
The Shrine of St. Martin is a hub of activity. The basilica also here is the see of the Bishop of Tours, Eufronius. The longest line is of pilgrims awaiting the blessings and their touch of the Saint’s relics. Certainly each is seeking a personal miracle. From my ancient view barely bent by pagan tradition it is hard for me to see a use in the rotting physical remnant of saint as a source of great wonders of fearlessness when all around us are the wonders of Creation itself. Yet, here they pray loud and long and in proper form and gesture that they no longer fear pain and sickness. And so may spiritual woes once bestowed upon them by devils and demons be turned toward hope –empty hopes or fulfilled — all hopes are of the same substance.
This is the trading floor where humankind come as wads of damp clay to bargain for a tad-bit more of life. The woman with her sons whom I had noticed on the river crossing is waiting here to touch something of a dead saint. The expectation is from ancient religion that winning favor with deity yields an outcome of personal benefit: fertile fields, many children, strength and health, healing… whatever.
I personally don’t think that God makes choices of who would be healed and who would be passed over to come again. In my opinion God just journeys with each of us through our happenstance. But who am I to know? All any of us knows is our own experiences and whatever we learn from empathy.
I do wonder will either the hurts or the healings ever turn anyone from old patterns of fear? Are we required to suffer for goodness sake? And who here will take notice of their own healings? Aren’t we all in a continuance of healing? How will we find the complete grace in the everyday beauty that surrounds us all in the breath of God like the very air we all breath together? Are the only true miracles those that are specified in human prayers, or does God’s grace get noticed too?
The large but frail matriarch with the sons notices my stare. I smile toward her. She recoils our gaze, not returning at all a smile for mine, but alerting her sons that we have seen one another before. Who am I to be feared by them? Surely they recall I was the one with the so-called “miraculous walnut” on the crossing, was I not? I avert my gaze to ease the moment.
George and I are in a lesser line here – we are simply waiting for a moment with the bishop.