Historical setting: 6th Century C.E. Somewhere in the Pyrenees
This elder farmer speculates, “I suppose that boy is always in danger of hurt. His own father bittered and turned. That father turned a pain in his tooth to rage, then over and again douses his rage in sweet honey nectar only to wake and rage again.”
“You seem to know him well.”
“We were friends, then we were neighbors, now we are strangers living near one another. The boy, Boda, is nearly the same in age as my eldest, Gret. When the boy’s mother was living with them up there our children were always together. We fathers talked of betrothing them – Boda and Gret. But then Boda’s father turned to fits of rage. The wife’s father came and took her away, but the boy was left with that angry man and no mother to make it a worthy nest of it. Sometimes we creep into their pantry cache and refill the bag of gruel so the boy could find food where his father only kept mead. And sometimes Gret says she looks to the hill that divides us and catches a glimpse of Boda watching from behind the rocks. A hill never makes a good hiding place. We fear for the boy, but when we go calling the father accuses me of using the betrothal as a ploy to steal away his flocks. So Boda and Gret are barred from seeing one another.”
“Well, we’ve come with news of the father.” Nic begins. And so we tell this man what we know of the father’s death and the son’s angry grief and desperate loneliness.
“What will Boda do now, all alone up there?” This farmer, father to daughters and owner of goats seems to be a wellspring of hurt-binding, healing compassion.
Thank you God, for stringing us humankinds together like beads on a jeweled chain, naming the next near one – a stranger first, then a neighbor then an essential friend. Amen. We are always in some state of belonging to one another.
Now Nic and I don’t need to return to the shepherd to quill our consciences. We are assured now and can continue our journey without abandoning another’s need. But we know rivers of rage when dried in one season return to follow the same beds in another.
Dear God, please intrude in these cycles of rage, so that Boda and Gret and all these people and sheep and goats and even me and Nic too may choose to see that fear and its senseless anger really have no power. Thank you for shining ever on us the surprises of creative grace. Amen.