Historical setting: 588 C.E. Forest Primeval
Thole is defiant. Grieving for Eve who raised him through his childhood, then he left her in her blindness to go back to his father to take the responsibilities of a farmer. Maybe he feels the same guilt as I, who also abandoned Eve in her silent, uncomplaining need because she seemed so resilient and able.
Through his howls and tears he keeps reminding me I don’t understand, and yet my own sorrow tells me I do – or maybe not.
My prayer begs God’s presence in my own grief, but it yields the empathy for me to see beyond our shared loss of Eve. And it is true that Thole claims his own grief, because his deep sorrow is his father’s betrayal of some kind of unsaid vow to Eve. Or maybe it is that Thole feels he is betrayed by his father’s stranger — a widow, immune to suffering grief – already a mother and ready to bring with her a family of her own sons and daughters. With all these people as a family for his father, what use might Jesse have for Thole? It is need and usefulness that binds a family until love wears a silent pathway.
The black water of night flows in thick braids shaped into river by the obstinance of these two opposing banks. We sit here with the murmur of the river under the winter’s dark.
A sudden jolt of inspiration sets Thole on his feet. “My father named me “Troll.” Let him feel his own loss of Thole now. I will get a horse from the count’s stable and cross this river into the pagan wood! And my father’s heart will ever wonder and wish for me, but I’ll never think of him again.
Need I remind Thole he isn’t that good at crossing the river with a horse. Or maybe I will just save him from the water again, and hope the horse can swim.
I answer, “Our crossing will be easier without the horse. Let us walk to the boat landing in the morning.”
Dear God, You can see both of us in our separate pains are imagining new lives, new friends, new family, new place to live that surely must be better than the old, even though we have no idea what a different life may be. Stay close as we make an earthly plan of it. Amen.
(Continues Wednesday, December 1)