Historical setting: A dark age on the Saxony Shore of Gaul
I am aware of the scramble in the woods as we walk near the graves and the children take their posts at the arsenal of rotting roots.
Soon those ghost-gobbling boars will be upon us. I call to the children.
“St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. John, please do not send out your wild boars; I’m only bringing you the priest who is also a friend and just as I had thought, I’ve learned he does speak for God. You will want to hear him.”
And they do want to hear him, and touch him, and wonder over the cold golden cross hanging from the chain around his neck. His expectation of the children is simply that they are children and he is not put off by their curiosity. I am witness to the baptisms. It is he who stands in the cold water today. He doesn’t require sainthood of these little ones, so their names are simply: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They have so many questions for this man.
While they talk the theology of a loving God I choose not to intrude my centuries of thoughts into this matter so I come to the seashore for the ebb tide when I can pick through the pools and puddles for edible shellfish. We are all groaning for a feast. I kindle the cooking pot for a seafood stew, and shell and debone my catch to suit children’s tastes. The good father seems to be enjoying the children as much as they are him. He knows songs with interesting words and makes them into calls and responses that give voice to every person of these. Tiny John the beloved has fallen asleep in Matthew’s arms. Luke wants me to come and learn the songs too.
We share the meal, and Father Silas announces he will come tomorrow at dawn with some of the faithful from his church for the prayers and psalms of morning matins.
He also promises they will bring the food for the picnic on the beach. I already know of early morning beach parties with Jesus. I long for the remembrance.
Thank you God, for this nighttime to keep the watch fire while the children nestle together with new songs and earthly hopes, chattering and repeating the new songs in calls and responses so late into this night. Amen.