Historical setting: Pyrenees Mountains, 6th Century C.E.
This morning the creek is slowed, the flood withdrawing, but we will have to wait a little longer to scour the tangles left after the washout before we can search for August’s wools.
Waiting here by the fire August tells of his life.
He was set free to be who he is by a fearless and loving family who would surely need to receive news if he were washed away in a flood. The monk tells us of a childhood, always at one building site or another as his father was an itinerate craftsman — a carpenter who helped set up the crane for lifting huge stones. In these times, the stones being laid are the walls of churches and monasteries.
August says he has a twin sister, nothing like him. But he was the first born accepted as a son into his family of mostly. As firstborn, August believed his father was particularly proud of him. He went with his father to the work sites and watched the various craftsmen at their tasks. He tells us as a youth he observed creative human hands working with stone and wood. And at the same time, these work places were the holy places where the voices of the monks echoed the psalms and prayers of ancient worship. As he explains it, his childhood was “fully blessed with the magnificent mingle of earth-stuff and Spirit.” This creative bond – earth and Spirit — became his longing in life. And so he became an artist in stone as he committed his life to holy purpose.
The receding creek waters reveal a great unraveling of land debris and water’s dregs twisted together in muddy dams now re-shaping the diminished flow of the creek. We walk creek-side, downstream in search of the robe. Nic has his sword drawn and is using it to turn over debris bundles in the murk. He retrieves the carcass of a marmot to rescue the fur; then he sets free a rat still tangled in debris. August goes ahead of us and reports a glimpse of the robe attached to a tendriled root stuck mid-stream. Wading into the creek Nic is able to retrieve slathers of waterlogged wool. It appears August will be borrowing my cloak for a few more days. Meanwhile I’m warding off the shivers with the fleeces we pack along. Maybe marmots have warm fur also. We’ll learn of that soon.