Historical setting: 6th Century C.E. Somewhere in the Pyrenees
Mostly it’s rain, wind-driven rain, ice fringed rain, blinding, sleety rain always in our faces affirming we have chosen the northerly way. Ah, yes! We aren’t lost. Thank you God.
We are watching for a sheltered lee to be a stopping place, but now The Rose has found a footing that seems was traveled before. The muddy slog is pocked with the tracks of a flock of sheep moving in this same direction. This trail takes us through a narrow pass with the creek on the west side of us, narrowing in the space between two vertical walls of stone into a faster flow, a swift current that leaps the rocks then froths with foam into rapids and falls. This path was a very good find. For quite some time we follow it around the hefty base of a vertical rock. The rain is subsiding when we reach the spread of grasses and sky beyond the pass. We make our camp. Our outer wools need to be wrung out before we spread them over the winter-bare bushes to dry. And it doesn’t take a very large fire to melt our shivers and boil up a pot of the last of our gruel with the beets and parsnips added.
Now, the dark, backsides of the clouds ravel apart exposing the naked depth of blue that is a peaceful afternoon sky. It was there all the time behind the storm. And right in the midst of our glimpse of late day sky is a white pearl moon, come early for night, a full round of brightness and quietude just waiting to dazzle the dark for these travelers drifting into peaceful rest.
“Wake Lazarus! There are flocks of sheep coming down on us! We have to move.”
The morning light is a narrow glow of crimson under the clouds. Our fire is cold, but all these sheep aren’t at all shy about trampling our tarp, and they would have put their many hoofs onto our fleeces and blankets as well, had we not grabbed up these few things before them. They come through our camp, each with curious glares, wondering what these human kinds are doing in the middle of their daily passage. At the last of this great march through our camp is another angry shepherd. He gives us an irritated glance as though we had sang a familiar psalm with a new tune. We seem always to be the intruders in some tradition that belongs here that we hadn’t noticed. Didn’t we even think in the fog of yesterday’s rain this is a sheep’s path?
(Continues Tuesday, December 15)