Historical setting: 563 CE, the old villa, as a monastery
The table is set with plenty. Monasteries often consider hospitality to strangers as their mission. This one, particularly, is one on a path with many a wandering stranger seeking hospitality. The gardens and livestock are here to serve mostly guests as these monks would, when left with no guests, practice the fast.
Nic has filled a hearty plate for himself and his comfortable grace and ease of language with these Gothic monks gives me the thought that he belongs here. Several of these monks are older men also. It is clear that Nic fits here and I know I don’t.
The rule of silence begins after the meal so I can’t speak with Nic about my thought but it seems clear to me; this is where he has found a home.
My prayer attempts seem to tilt epic. I’m telling my whole plan to God as though God were mindless. So I begin it again.
Dear God, I know it is our human nature that prods our impatience and allows us to think we can read a plan you may have …
No, surely that’s not a good prayer-start. If what I have to say is truly God’s plan, I should just stick with “Thy will be done.”
Dear God, please consider Nic’s happiness if it is your will. Amen.
Should I act on this? I know Nic belongs here so I can’t just expect him to go along with me on my journey across the mountains? What if God hasn’t yet told Nic or the abbot of the plan? Perhaps I should share my concern for Nic’s happiness with the abbot after prayers in the morning. I’m sure the abbot will be pleased to welcome this older man here to be a novice among these monks.
When the silence is broken in the morning I wait to speak to the abbot. I can vouch for the goodness of Nic staying here, while I go on across the mountains into Gaul on to the monastery near Poitiers. When I was there before, I could copy scriptures in the scriptorium and yet keep a horse and serve as a messenger. I know I can be useful there and Nic seems to belong here. But I need to start my journey right away before winter comes down on the north side of the Pyrenees.
So this morning I wait here on the bench outside the abbot’s cubical because the abbot is already meeting with someone.