Historical setting: A dark age in Gaul
Dear God, guide my feet, my heart, my remembering. Thank you for strength and healing. And thank you also for Dr. Neifus, though not understanding, at least he is respectful of my need for this solitude. Thank you for staying near.
I ponder the glimpses of memory. In flashes I can see the damp logs flinging toward me wielded by desperate men and nearby the pale woman on the bed, never smiling, coveting my relic. Why had I a relic? I find no reason in the jumble of it all to understand why I would have a relic. I know who I am, and I’m not of pagan root that worships remnants of the dead and rotting saints. [Footnote]
This dell is young. This stand of willows grows up from a boggy floor of a once deep woods. The ancient forest was surely felled of its beech and ash and oaks to squelch the need for sturdy beams so that the building of city could stretch to new edges beyond the old Roman walls. Such were the earthly dreams of greatness that drove us then. But when was that? I’m trying to remember when city walls turned mossy and pitted. May it come back to me, may it come.
A yellow flower blooms here by the riverbank. I remember her beautiful golden hair. I remember it perfectly well this moment. We laid together as husband and wife. Is she wondering where I am now? Did I leave her somewhere by the river’s edge? Where was it I was going when I last waited here at this riverside port in Nantes? I have a thought of Iberia. Perhaps my home is in Iberia and I only returned here to Nantes of Gaul to follow the river Liger to the Civitas Toronorum in order to pray in solitude in the caves of the saints. Why did I leave Iberia? I feel an urgency to go to Hispania. I’m not sure where I belong but when I see it, I think I will remember it.
Dear God, thank you for the tender veil of green willow leaves today. Help my dimmed memories come to me in portions I can manage. Amen.
(Come back Tuesday, May 5)
AM Klevnas Girton College, University of Cambridge submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. This academic paper explores an archeological mystery of Europe during the Merovingian Period in which graves of probable respected community members are disturbed within a short time of the burials. One hypothesis he explores is this: “Early Christians featured close physical interactions with the remains of the dead, practices which are almost unrecognizable in today’s Christianity. Exhumation of remains and translation to a higher status burial place was a key rite in the creation of an early medieval saint.”