Historical setting: 584 C.E. the road to Ligugè
I’ve walked this road to Ligugè before. But all these years later so much has changed from human neglect. When inattention defines our spaces the buildings don’t just sit still and empty. There come first the little creatures, the insects, mosses and mushrooms, then the grasses come with spiders and mice, then birds. Squirrels make their homes in rafters, and the roof beams become saturated with rain-dampened thatch sagging and caving until only a few stones and a flat place once a foundation are left to mark a house.
I imagine the God’s-eye view of this isn’t really of sorrow and loss. Maybe where we see decay God sees all things new. Where once there was a house filled with the chatter of people now a whole new nature sways in the creeping of unkempt vines. How many times do we assume our ways are the same as God’s ways, with all our branches trimmed back neatly into tidy straight edges? Yet God forgives our shorns and trims and blesses us with life in all these eternal lands anyway.
Along this road a small group of guardsmen pass by on horseback with a banner identifying their belonging. I can step aside for them because the simplicity of walking gives me that humble choice. I had a horse in a prideful time. And Christians have another story of walking humbly that speaks of crossing social mores for the sake of love of neighbor. [Acts 8:26-39] There is a story of an Ethiopian Eunice riding in a chariot while reading from a scroll named for a Hebrew prophet. The basic love of God is not complicated theology. In all the Holy teachings there is a simple repetition — the rudiments of ancient Hebrew law. Love God above all else, and your neighbor as yourself. [Leviticus 19:18] Here is this wealthy person of rank from wise Africa, whom we pale Christians of the north hold in awe. Dark is the shade of early wise men and saints, the early Church Fathers and Augustine, … Story goes, while walking on the road Philip steps aside for this very important Eunich. Yet the aristocrat humbled himself for the sake of a broader wisdom and he invited Philip onto the chariot to explain the scroll. In this telling of it, Philip baptizes this Ethiopian Eunich. It’s a story of looking beyond the tribal prides and social prejudices, putting aside isolating barriers of “othering” and stretching ourselves into the broader unbounded nature of love for all people and creatures.