Historical setting: 564 C.E. The Gaul Side of the Pyrenees
We are trying to decide if we should take Brother Joel on a day long ride in an ox cart to find a city with a surgeon, or if Nic should just apply his blade and skill and take this man’s agonizing dead foot from him right here and now.
Brother Joel answers, “I am willing to try both things you’ve offered. Your kindness has let me know I‘m ready to leave this solitude here for a time of physical healing. So let me try to manage the ride to Bordeaux and if I cannot endure the journey, I will beg the cut of your blade, Brother Nic.”
So we set out on a day’s journey to Bordeaux now with August and the ox first and Nic walking, leading The Rose behind the ox cart in order to keep a watchful eye on Brother Joel who is lying next to the cool stone of the statue of the mother in the cart.
I’m left to be the scout, escouter, for our direction ahead so I gather instructions from August to follow this creek then turn west at a larger river and follow that river into the city.
Umber seems grateful for a faster pace so our ride alone has a welcome freedom though my heart and my prayers are with the others. There is always that tug between solitude and belonging with people and it isn’t just for the ascetic monks living as hermits in wilderness places. I seem trapped in the paradox of longing for the tranquility of isolation then when I’m alone, I yearn for the company of others.
I’ve only followed the larger river a few miles to the west when I come upon an ancient Roman bridge spanning this widening meander in this otherwise empty place in sight of an ancient city wall. This crumbling bridge has endured centuries of wars no doubt. Surely any booming civitas has shrunken away from this edge of city wall as the roaring numbers of urban humans has been shrinking over the years with each war or round of plague.
I take the dare and test the strength of the bridge, first on foot, then on horseback. I’m sure this bridge can maintain the weight of the ox cart in case I would find no other bridge to take us across to Bordeaux. And now I see there isn’t another bridge so this is where we will cross.