Historical setting: A dark age on the Shore of Gaul
I’ve asked these children to tell me their story. The storyteller for the group is the one called “Pudding,” a precocious child about eight years old.
“Our father and oldest brother were the keepers of the harbor light. They climbed the cliff when the waters darkened and made a bright fire on top of the rock to guide ships to the harbor and away from the rocks. We lived in a house by the sea, and the other house was a guardhouse for soldiers from the garrison. They guarded the harbor, and helped with ships landing; but they weren’t at their post when the pirates came. Mom sent us all up here to the garden so she could help our father and brother fight them, but the pirates had swords and torches and they won the fight and burned the houses. We hid our eyes and only Pumpkin watched, and he won’t say what he saw. But the flames twisted up high as the cliff and the soldiers saw it and came down and chased the pirates back into the sea. Then the soldiers put out the fires and worried over the sunken merchant ship and the pilings and quay all burned up now. Our house was burned too. Two of the soldiers dug pits in the sand by the woods and they buried our father and mother and brother. Another soldier of them came down the road with God and he showed God the stone piles where our family is buried.”
“Are you sure it was God?”
Pumpkin intercepts my rude question. “Of course we know it was God. He had long robes and a gold medal hanging from his neck.” Pumpkin drew a cross in the sand. “And he gave us our names, just as our mother said he would when we were baptized.”
“So you talked to him?”
“No we hid here, but he must have known we were here because he gave us our real names and told our mother what we are to do now.”
“What did he say?”
All four of the children stand up together and prepare to repeat the exact words and actions of the priest, now seared by grief as ritual onto their longing hearts. I stand also for the sacred.
“Father, Son and Holy Spirit…”
Pudding fills me in, “God knew they were, ‘Father and Son,’ but he didn’t say ‘Mother.’ To her stone pile, he said, ‘Holy Spirit.’ So now we know that our mother’s God name is ‘Holy Spirit’.”
(And what of the other names? Come again, Tuesday, June 9.)