Historical setting: Along the ridges of the Pyrenees, 6th Cent, C.E.
While Nic has provided the shepherd with a proper wrap for his foot, I turned the stick he carries into a finely crafted crutch but apparently he preferred the rough-hewn rod. I defend, “I thought you would need a crutch to help you walk until your foot heals.”
Now he is flinging the crutch at me. I move quickly enough to avoid the first whack, and he is slow enough gathering himself to his feet (or foot) and recovering his crutch that I can easily avoid the beating. Then Nic steps up behind him and disarms him of his “weapon.”
“Tell Brother Lazarus ‘thank you’ for making the crutch because you will need it. He provided you a kindness.”
The youth pleads with Nic, “But that was my rod! I need that rod for the fight! You need to teach me to fight with the rod!”
“Sticks grow on trees my friend. You can get another. You will find this crutch is more useful in your healing.”
The first howl of winter flings its ice crystals at this mountain ridge long into the night as though the morning light would sparkle winter. But it is barely November. On this new day the ice is melting moist into earth. Some of the crystals cling to the sheep’s long wools, and shine slick on north sides of rocks and posts, but otherwise the storm is gone.
Before the light of day fully wakened us the shepherd has opened our sacks of grain, and he is now sharing a morning meal with the donkey and the big white dog. The Rose is taking notice of this as he usually eats first. Nic awakens with great concern and immediately checks the supply of oats, relieved to find that only the sack of our food has been tapped.
As we tend the horses the well-fed donkey goes for a happy little romp in the pasture enclosure. The big white dog is close by him. Who would have thought, in all our tenuous whinnies and stranger welcomes it would be the donkey and the dog that would find the bond?
The shepherd counts every sheep and reports his amazement that none are missing. It is true. We didn’t steal a single sheep in the middle of the stormy night as only the shepherd would imagine. Today we are preparing to travel as soon as the sun melts the icy patches from the rocks. But the shepherd pleads for us to stay.