Historical setting: 563 CE, Bragda
While we await the keeper of the books to make our appointment with the gospel, Nic is questioning the doorkeeper about every detail of the recent Council of Bragda in 561. He seems so delighted in the assurance that my lost memory might have lapsed only one year and a few months.
“Hey Laz, you should hear this! It all makes sense now. It’s like you say, the Priscillianists keep reemerging even in these new times. And the heresy is just as you explained it. You were right. The people who joined that cult were meeting in secret, and they were starving themselves to death in the name of God. So the Council ruled against changes in the liturgy that could be seen as secret language for belonging. They outlawed meatless meals, in order to rescue the starving victims. And to keep these ascetics from being venerated as martyrs it was ruled that suicides were to be buried outside the churchyard.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Braga. Retrieved,9-23-2019]
Nic holds onto the high hopes that this rescued monk to whom he has pledged his patronage and friendship can be easily returned to “normal” and our lives can go on simply and usefully all for God.
On this next morning the ride from the inn with the excellent stable to the basilica is becoming familiar. Two days ago the observations of this jaunt were of distances, elevations and road surfaces. Now this ride is more about the things that would go unnoticed in our hurry. This morning we feel the gentle rhythm of the horses’ gait, the sounds and smells of a new morning rising in the mist. It is a moment to notice what was lost in our first ride this way.
Dear God, thank you…
Nic interrupts my prayer – or is it our gratitude together at this moment. “You know, Laz, when we started on this, the horse thing was a real obstacle for me. Now I’m actually glad we got horses. I mean, listening to his hooves hitting the ground, sorting the rhythm from the taps of the woodpeckers, leaves rustling up to flurry in the breeze, livening the stillness of a hot day to come… I’m learning to like the feel of the horse moving beneath me.” [Author’s note]
“That’s a good thing Nic, as I fear we will be doing much more of this now. I’m afraid we haven’t really found the easy solve to my scrambled mind yet.”
[Author’s note] For information about horses for this writing I asked a friend, Gail Salco, who cares for horses to guide my characterizations of horses, and in one of her e-mails she described a morning ride. I gave her own words to Nic in this place.