Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
The monks are seated at the boards spread for the meal in the oratory this morning. Some are here with hidden scars, some with pale echoes of “Gloria” still lingering, passing the basket of bread from one to another as we all are one great omelet of God’s love.
These years later I find that Brother August has come into this community appreciating the spiritual union with others. I seem to be received here as my own son, which apparently only confuses me. But it is a good time for finding new beginnings here.
The abbot assigns me a bench in the scriptorium where I may work at my own little project of copying Anatase’s marked passages in the remedies book. He is being very generous with the materials and a place to do this work as he seems not to remember me at all. And he is assuming I am the young man I appear to be, having had no practice and perhaps no skill at all. But if anyone did remember me here I would probably be expected to work with of all the monks as they seem so steeped in a major project today lettering a gospel. I would have to do the useful work for the good of the community and then, only if there was not other work to be done, I would be allowed to work on the little project I brought. I feel like a pickle in the omelet as I begin my own project while the monks all work as one.
The master of the scribes, the one who oversees the quality of the work in the scriptorium passes through the room with the silence of a ghost, looking over each shoulder unseen or ignored, constantly measuring the quality of the work. I feel he is standing over me, though the abbot didn’t assign this project and the quality of it isn’t for assessment by this master. The master of the scribes now goes immediately over to August, and there are whispers.
Brother August is at a larger raised desk made for standing and adding artwork; he’s all the way across the room working on the little art pieces, illuminations of letters and trimmings painted into the margins in order to inform the illiterate and to capture the imaginations of us all. There are whispers between them.
(Continued Tuesday August 17, 2021)