Historical setting: 587 C.E. Ligugè
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More than three years passed by us while I’ve been working in the inks of Ligugè. The commissions for our work continue to dwindle and our elder abbot has not accepted the available tasks of lettering copies of legal documents for secular dealings, as the politics of the aristocracy flail and shred in the shifting winds of royal whims. I know we need the work and the kings and counts need the help but the abbot holds to our sacred purpose despite the earthly tug toward what are called realistic values.
The nearby convent of the monastery of the Holy Cross has been tossed into a worse turbulence these days with the death of their abbess, Queen Ratigund on August 13. The appointment of a new abbess, Agnes, has inflamed the embers of disgruntlement already smoldering among the sister’s. The sisters of the Abby, like Ratigund herself, are daughters of nobility and these nuns have long chided the strict Rule for Virgins. But now they are in flat-out rebellion over the appointment of an abbess of lesser rank. [Footnote] Rumor has it they are no longer confined to virginity by the walls of the Abby. Some are giving themselves away to marriage, or worse. But I suppose the advantage of an earthly, autocratic power-structure such as the bishops maintain will save this establishment in the end.
I find my peace here at Ligugè where the bishop doesn’t interfere in our most intimate prayers with the Creator God, and this abbot affirms our version of obedience driven not by rule or threat but by love and respect.
With less work to do in the inks I’ve been assigned to help in the gardens. Maybe it’s because I need the spiritual participation with things that grow, or perhaps it’s simply that I am one of the few of us with the youthful flexing of knees required to genuflect for every weed in need of pulling.
As I watch the Creator’s patterns of continuation of life despite the shortness of seasons I see that changes from our clustered order of monks might become more as Jesus commanded, a mission of sending out, like a spreading of seeds on the wind. Whether or not we are a church of countable numbers or just a few wanderers, I know God will always provide a worthy pattern for Christians. To everything a season — for seeds flying — for seeds buried.
[Footnote] One source that attributes the nun’s rebellion to the noble ranking of the nuns is Patrick J. Geary’s Before France & Germany: the creation & transformation of the Merovingian world.(New York: Oxford University Press,1988.) p. 147.