Historical setting: 584 C.E. Eve’s Garden on the Loire
Anatase is politely listening to me as I tell a Jesus story she may have already heard. But I wanted to tell it again, thinking of Nic, and his way of abandoning his well-earned pride in order to enact the humility of the “love of neighbor” command. I was telling the story in Luke 10. The respected and proud people who passed by the suffering man were too busy or too important to stop and help. Then along came a guy who was from an outcast neighborhood, a Samaritan, or it might have been a Christian heretic. Or in Nic’s case, the story was a Roman soldier, a navy rower who found a Christian pacifist beaten and left for dead by the side of the road who turned out to be born Jewish. This neighbor is the kind who is very hard to love. We think of him more as the “other” rather than a neighbor. But Nic not only took the time to help the man, he paid all his money from his years at the oars to be this man’s patron. And to do all of this kindness he had to give up his own plume of glory — his well-earned affirmations of prejudice – he had to yield his own tradition and his pride in maintaining popular warring hates simply to follow the love command. That is what Jesus meant by ‘love your neighbor’.”
Thinking of Nic in this way I feel an urgency to go to Ligugè to visit Nic’s grave.
At a good pace a man of my newly returned strength can start at sunrise and arrive at the monastery just as summer’s darkness swallows up all traces of the road ahead, so I prepare to leave at dawn.
Eve and Anatase are filling my traveler’s sack with every imaginable weighty object to remind me of their cares. It will be good to have a cloak and a biscuit and a boiled egg, and of course, flowers for the grave I plan to visit. Eve asks me to take a gift with me for the monastery. She is searching for something – may it not be a stone statue I must carry on my back. Thankfully, she has only several of her beeswax candles she keeps to light a room for others who don’t know the darkness as she does. Surely I have every imaginable thing to carry on this journey. What more can there be?
(Continues Tuesday, July 20, 2021)