Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
As night creeps over I see ahead of me the hulking peak of an old villa roof. I’m coming upon the monastery that was a Roman villa centuries ago. In a time long ago St. Martin repurposed this rich gift of a grand Roman edifice for use as a spiritual refuge for monks coming in from the wilderness to be in community. I know this place as it is now with a sunny atrium for the scribes and an oratorio for worship and dining. The cells for the monks are dug into the clay beyond the walls or built of thatch and rock scattered around the back areas of this land.
If I knock on the door tonight I will only intrude on the silence after the vespers. So tonight I’ll sleep in hayloft of the stable. Tomorrow I’ll meet the abbot and beg a guest room or a cell. I might not mention I once had a cell of thatch that was burned up by the abbot who feared I brought plague to this place. All these years later I’ll only confuse people I’ve known in a long ago time with my incessant look of youth. My circumstance requires me to pretend I know nothing of the past. Always, it seems, history is most comfortably spoken from the present so the out of style and unpopular truths it keeps can be edited out.
Sun rising now, silvering the morning mist and I walk through the open place of the wall of stacked stone surrounding the graveyard for monks. Here is the newly made grave with some stones already gathered. I’m sure this is the burial place of my friend. Already there is a marker — a partly carved sandstone with an artist’s bas relief showing an ox head. Yes! I know this artist was one of us who knew of Nic’s love for such simple beasts. I already know the one who placed this blessing here for those of us who knew Nic well.
Dear God, thank you for nurturing this hope I have of meeting Brother August once again and for this celebration of Nic’s gentle nature.
“Hello Mister. Did you know Old Nic?”
I turn around and there is Brother August with a snowy tonsure like a great halo of heaven crowning his brow.
He continues, “Oh, excuse my surprise, but you look just like the brother’s old friend Lazarus.”
(Continues Tuesday, July 27, 2021)