Historical setting: A dark age along the Saxony Shore of Gaul
It is the dance. “II, I, Pull,” over and again in 3/8 time, the Hora, it is without the full circle of the wedding. We’re all aligned facing back. “II, I, Pull, II, I, Pull,” shoulder-to-shoulder together in the drumbeat of the dance. It seems I’m bound to pull this oar for twenty-six years?
My memory seems idled with Rome somewhere in the fifth century, but my shipmates tell me it is now 562 A.D. That’s why the bright stone-works and solid beams of Roman progress now appear mossy and rotting.
My strange circumstance of so many healings back into life, living as an earthly man into one century after another would only confuse them; so I keep my gift of life and life again to myself. They do see I was once shorn as a monk, and they remember my rescue from the woods on the bank of the River Liger which brought me into their midst before the latest repair of the hull.
Maybe this is history. Maybe it is our shared, universal memory. Maybe it is a cycle, and so what has been is what will be and history is its own prediction.
The Empire crumbles as so many tribes of Goths from the northern reaches have had to find new lands on the southern side of the Danube. Maybe it is because they are simply heathen barbarians looking to rile wars. Or maybe it is because of the rising water, soaking the lowlands where food was once grown. I haven’t noticed it happening in my lifetime even though my life is forever long. The blessing is that the earth changes happen slowly in God’s time, not human hurry. (May it ever be so.) So the warming has been happening over thousands of years — the ice age with its bergs and mammoths, white bears and ermine in winter white fit for kings — is receding to the north. The omen of change is melting ice and rising seas.
One last freeze-over of the boundary river allowed the tribes to cross over to make their homes in these lands already being coveted by Roman expansion. And so the wars are stirred. The desperation of need for safety and food honed the thuggish fighting skills of these tribes of refugees we call barbarians: Visagoths, Ostragoths, and tribes and tribes of Franks, and of course the Anglos, the Lombards and the Saxons, the Salvadorians, the Polynesians and Indonesians, the Californians and Australians and those at the tip of the Long Island just beyond the Hamptons.
(Continues Tuesday, May 12)