Historical setting: 563 C.E., on the western shore of Gaul
I climb the cliff alone for a vantage point for my prayers.
Dear God, Please help me as I’m trying to loosen myself from deep prejudice I once thought was a virtue. Amen.
“…Perfect love casts out fear.” It serves me well in the practice of love to look instead for fear when I feel a need to identify a hurt as a hate. And most often it seems possible to dispel hatred by facing a fear. But it’s quite another thing to let go of an obstinate valuing of this hurt, identifying myself as a hater (for me, of soldiers), as though hate were a virtue. It is maintaining an enemy, even when it is destructive to both the one who fears and the one who is feared. That’s what hatred must be: Hate is claiming as personal virtue, the ownership of fear.
I promise again and again not to be one who could nurture hate. And yet, for centuries now, it’s been my habit when I am passed by on the road by plumes of glory pretending to be powerful, I draw my spit and spew it purposefully on the ground wherever I’ve seen the soldiers pass. I relish the skill of targeting the spittle to make my statement, but always behind them so not to cause trouble. Now I’m suddenly aware that under each plume of glory is a human being – the hollow armor shields the heart of one whom God created and loves — the same kind of human creature as am I. First I argue by saying this man is nothing like me. I am good and beloved, and he has fallen under the imperial powers — sold out to the enemy. He is surely something other than my kind of being.
Just now from this vantage point on the high cliff I see Nic near the market. Several other soldiers are milling through the merchandise.
Dear God, forgive me for mistaking Nic for a Roman soldier. Or… Maybe God is expecting me to notice a wider notion of “enemy love.” Maybe God expects me to love the whole army of them, as though they were each God’s own beloved creation also. I swallow spit. Thank you God for Nic. Amen.
One of them has picked up Nic’s helmet from the vendor’s table, then places it back as Nic also notices and is rushing toward this other old soldier. They greet as friends. I had best go back now. My quietude is lost to spying on my new friend.
(Come again tomorrow)