Historical setting: A dark age on the Saxony Shore of Gaul
The priest continues, “I see your rags and bare feet but I see no children. If you want a crust of bread from me you will have to beg more truthfully.”
“Truthfully then, I am not a beggar, I believe I have a patron who will supply my shoes and cloak when we find one another. And I am sure he is willing to share a crust of bread with me also. But what I am asking now, is of you. There are four small boys who were left orphaned by pirates when the harbor was burned.” He pales and turns his gaze to the floor.
I hammer relentlessly. “They saw and heard and memorized your words of burial for their parents and brother, and now they need to be baptized with the names they believe you have assigned to them. Those names would be St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John. And you have assigned them the task of educating their innocent and ignorant and unbaptized family in the teachings of Gospel. They need to hear from you the words that God loves them, and they need you to tell them that God is not a man with a gold cross on a chain, but is the Holy Deity omnipresent but invisible. I told them you speak for God but you are not God, and now they are waiting to hear you speak. They need to know that the true and invisible God who is love hears their prayers.”
The priest speaks to me. “That was last fall when the harbor was burned.” And he speaks aloud to God. “Dear God, forgive me this terrible oversight.”
He has no thought to argue the truthfulness of his own funeral words said back to him as blame. His concern seems to be for the children. I also speak my prayer aloud. “Dear God, thank you for sending these children a kind and caring priest. Amen.”
“What else do the children need?” He asks.
“Your Holiness, come with me to see them and you can decide. There is a creek for baptism, and they already know what it is to be dragged into the cold water for a simple cleaning. I think they will really appreciate a proper baptism.”
“Are they cold and hungry?” he asks as he puts on his cassock and prepares to go with me.
“They are needy in everything. But they are beautiful in their love and care for one another and we dare not loose sight of that goodness in our own human hollow and hurting empathy for them.”
(Come again Tuesday, June 16)