Historical setting: Pyrenees Mountains, 6th Century C.E.
Caught in the current, the little monk, with all his strength is able to stop himself from the pull of raging river by grabbing onto a low tree branch rooted to the opposite bank. The ribbons he was wrapped in flow loose and twist and coil on with the fury. But the pale naked human form is clinging to the tree limb with quivering strength. I leave my cloak and horse and discover the icy water with the relentless power of current. The little monk has courage and fortitude enough to trust me and let go of the limb allowing me to take him with an arm around his neck to keep his head up, and together we float downstream as I can only make slow progress with swimming for the two of us in the raging water to reach the bank. Umber wanders near to where we land with my cloak still lain across his back.
I wrap the shivering monk in my rain soaked wool but now I have seen the naked breasts that the ribbons were meant to bind. And now, I hear her prayer aloud, thanking God with the clear and strong voice of a woman. “Thank you God, that the ox is in the care of a good man. And now, Dear God, may my rescue back to life be of service to you alone. Amen.”
August, or I guess I should call her Augusta, still has strength enough to sit astride my horse as I walk them back upstream to Nic and the oxcart. Nic is rinsing thick mud from the knees and belly of the grateful ox. I see our rope of hemp is tied to one horn of the soldier’s saddle on The Rose, and Augusta and I both can see that Nic is indeed a very good man and he does have knowledge of oxen. Nic and The Rose were able to free the ox from the deep mud and offer it the comfort and assurance Augusta entrusted to Nic in her prayer aloud of thanksgiving.
The little monk pulls the hood of my cloak over her head to hide her face from Nic, but Nic has already had a glimpse.
Nic greets the shivering wools with his amazement. “So that is why we never see your tonsured head! You are so young yet and you haven’t even a hair of a beard! I see now this August, our desert ‘father’ is but a child!”
I am the one to say it, “Our desert ‘father’ is a desert mother, an amma.”