Historical setting: Sixth Century Bordeaux
“Laz, I have to tell you, knowing my brothers as I do, they aren’t that analytical, especially when it comes to their own jealousy and their own flaws.”
August continues, “It sounds to me like you are ready to pass judgment on me but not on the brutes. They are only looking to damage my family’s opinion of me. They have no wish at all for brotherly bonds.”
“But Brother August maybe this burden you feel to impress your father with your amazing gifts is something like the fear they also imagine is you against them. They see your beautiful work and they feel you threaten their value in your father’s sight. Your ridicule of this workmanship won’t fix this project anymore than their objections to your perfectionism can make you sloppier in your art. And attributing more wrongs to your brothers won’t make your mother and father love you any more than they already do.
“Never, at least since the story of Jacob who had sons with two different wives, have I heard of a parent whose love for his children could be diminished by the dazzling giftedness of another son. Maybe it’s a common fear among siblings, that a parent’s love is unjustly offered to some superior son but finding perfect equality in a parent’s love it is like trying to find symmetry in God’s grace. Grace falls unevenly on humankind, more by chance or need than by human virtue. A parent’s love, like God’s free gifts, flows unevenly among those who are beloved. Yet love is vastly abundant, all encompassing, never ending, so an uneven distribution shouldn’t matter. Love doesn’t require perfect symmetry. I don’t imagine you will make your father love your brothers less just because you are so good at carving stone, even now that you have turned your life over to God and God herself is inspiring your work.”
I give August no time to answer with a defense. I just keep talking.
“I have a thought. Let me go with you to your family now. When someone comes to the door keep your hood up so they see you only as a monk. Then I will ask Shollo and Kairn to come out with me to this worksite so that I may ask them about the work, and maybe talk about my own usefulness as a builder.”
August is hesitant.