Historical setting: A dark age on the Saxony Shore of Gaul
As the priest walks with me he is pouring out a verbose string of happenstance that allowed four orphans to struggle unknown for a whole winter in a Christian claimed wood. He unwinds a twine of guilt and caring, and also a great tangle of hurt and beauty.
“The merchant ship came up the shore with its winter stores of wines and other libations. The ship was at quay emptied of its wares, rich with the remittance. Everyone was enjoying the bounty. The whole town and the garrison and the ship’s crew were at a great celebration of harvest riches and the abundance money buys. Then, we saw the flames up from the harbor. The soldiers and the ship’s crew returned to their posts but it was too late. Even the quay and the pilings were in ash. The three bodies of the keepers of the light were found near the woods. The pirates slashed their throats as the three tried to run from the fight and the flames. They are buried where they fell. I was summonsed to speak the last words. I never saw these people in the church, so I assumed they were pagan or godless. I had never reached out to them. I had no thought they had other children there hiding in the woods and watching all of this unfold. I offered a message to benefit of the soldiers at that burial, so that they would hear the importance of the Christian requirements particularly baptism. Yet I also know the loving God doesn’t always fit the requirements of Church, so in my message I tried to make up something of a loophole in the required damnation for the unbaptized. I spoke those words as an excuse for judgment, rather than the proper rule of theology in which I have been trained.”
“So apparently, our Creator God, who is the completeness of love used your words to bring hope and purpose to the small, grieving children.”
“And you don’t know what your are talking about either, do you young man. I violated conscience on one hand and Church on the other. I have confessed it and begged forgiveness even before I knew of the children.”
I answer, “Had you properly pronounced their parents’ souls bound for Hell, the children would have followed them to Hell.”
We pick our way through the sticks and branches across the old road, and come upon the still abandoned beach.