Historical setting: Pyrenees Mountains, 6th Century C.E.
We are on our journey, two horses a good distance behind the ox cart with the pace set by the little desert father and the ox. We are sent on our way most rudely this morning by the seller of Gallo-Roman stone gods and goddesses because we rejected Antton’s invitation to stay for his party. But surely our own dedication to a teacher who celebrates with the poor and outcast would have made us unfit guests for Antton’s festival of the Solar New Year. I do hope he finds some guests. It’s a bleak beginning to a year with having the very dregs of possible guests turn you down.
Nic mentions, “I hope August didn’t hear that awful language. I mean in some ways the truth of it just made it so much worse. I too notice the stench of that little fellow but that’s not a reason to use such filthy slurs.”
“As I said Nic, I’ve spent many long and peaceful times in prayer alone in wilderness places, and sometimes I’ve been with others of these ascetics and I know that baths and sweet scented oils are the stuff of personal wealth and vanity. So desert fathers are known to separate themselves from worldly bliss by making a deliberate effort to show devotion in this way.”
“You mean you are saying August accepts that he stinks?”
“Yes. In fact he may see it as a sign of his pious commitment to his life of prayer. And, after-all, it is us, asking the favor of him that he give up his cave and solitude and take this journey with us. I mean, alone in a cave with his ox and with God, who probably loves all smells of Creation, he surely doesn’t require the ancient Nicodemus’s hundred pounds of fragrant herbs to enhance a cave. He is who he is.”
Nic adds a wayward hope. “But if the heavens took pity on these two fellow travelers who are riding with him, perhaps the clouds would let loose a great torrent of cleansing rain and we would all just smell of clean wet wool together.”
Today, the sky is gleaming cobalt for a new, unblemished year marked by the sun’s journey.
Dear God, the beauty of this new morning seems a gift way beyond any intentions of humility. The paradox of poverty in a beautiful world is the gracious gift of Creation we all share. Thank you God, Amen. And may it ever be so.