Historical setting: 584 C.E. Leaving the vineyard
I’m preparing to leave at dawn to walk to Ligugè. My bag is a bit weighty. But Anatase has something more. It’s a secret. She has the book of remedies with flower stems marking pages and she asks a favor. Could I copy these pages onto a parchment end so she can attach dried herbs onto the written descriptions. She wants her teacher to receive a gift that has smell and touch so Eve will know what the words say.
“That’s a very thoughtful gift, Anatase. I will take great care of the book. But what if it’s needed before I return?”
“It won’t be needed forever while I‘m here. I worried that it would be lost so as soon as I could read I learned it all by memory just in case.”
“Of course you did. Why would I wonder?”
The rumor of my leaving has spread, and now Celeste and her children are coming with river rocks, marked by each great-grandchild in charcoal for me to remember them by. I can promise I will remember, but I choose not to add rocks to my pack. So we stack them into a cairn for all of our remembering as Jacob stacked stones for the Mizpah with Laban. [Genesis 31:51]
My strength is nearly complete so I needn’t borrow a horse or wait to ride a cart. And with a pale haze of summer morning ousting dark this promises to be a fine day for a journey. Thank you God.
Yesterday set my mind on this as we were reading about humility. Nic’s humor applied to the paradox of being proud of humility came to me with all the demands of grief. I have so many memories of Nic I need to share with others who knew him. The story I was telling Anatase yesterday, which tradition calls “The Good Samaritan,” recognizes the human penchant for taking pride in hatred. Pride in hate is prejudice. People, who are fearful of being cast out of their tribe create exclusions of others in order to form a bond of hatred. The Roman military bonded over hatred of Jews. But of course, this tribal pride is antithetical to the Jesus message of love of neighbor. So it was that by Nic’s most humble nature he forfeited his fellowship with the Roman anti-Semitism simply to befriend me, a stranger who was born a Jew.