Historical setting: 564 C.E. The Gaul Side of the Pyrenees
On this new morning even the most magnificent beams of dawn can’t pale the long darkness we’ve spent. The elder monk lay the whole night in the place August prepared for him in the bed of the cart, driven, as he has been, back from death into life by raging fever. August sat with him, Nic and I prayed quietly with whispers yet our prayers were heard easily because God’s Holy Spirit hovers close by, and now the elder monk has set his face this morning toward the continuation of his tangible, physical life. The elder desert father has more clarity than fever this morning.
Thank you God.
He tells us he is called “Brother Joel.” We can see that if he would choose to continue on his humble walk with God he will surely have only one physical foot to walk upon. He tells us what we feared we would need to tell him, that he may loose his foot along this way.
August knows of an ancient Roman city on the path before us. “It was once a Roman city and now the Franks are rebuilding it and calling it Bordeaux. The Frankish kingdom is asking the church to name a bishop so that it may become the whole archdiocese of the Frankish kingdom.”
I know something of this land. “I doubt a Frankish archdiocese could ever find root in an earthly city like Bordeaux when the great power of the dead Saint’s relic are ever beckoning Christians to Tours.”
“I’m just saying,” August explains, “Surely in a city we will find a proper surgeon who can see to the needs of Brother Joel. We could be there before nightfall. I know this path we are on and that city is very near.”
Nic draws his dagger. “If a day’s jostle in the bed of an oxcart doesn’t kill him, surely a stranger’s blade would. I have a soldier’s training and years of observance of these things; and Brother Lazarus has proven himself an adequate craftsman at making a crutch from a stick of wood. If we did this here and now, he can heal in his own familiar cave. We will stay with him until he is able to fetch water for himself.”
So I ask the subject of this debate, “What do you say, Brother Joel?”
“I think with your kindness and the grace of God I shall have it both ways.”
(Come again Tuesday, February 16)