Historical setting: 589 C.E. when Brittany was forest
Here in this silence of a winter wood newly snowed-in with even the waterfall stilled in ice I find a beautiful solitude. Every breath is visible. Every prayer – every thought – every little wonder – every little footprint of bird or mouse – everything important is deeply etched into the purity of this stillness.
Psalms of thanksgiving roust through my mind, setting me to singing. I chant the call, and the music travels unbounded until it is received, maybe by some hidden fox or silent hare, and the response comes back to me fully immersed as quiet.
Then this unabashed solitude is completely shattered as the smoke shifts and I see here at my own fire circle a human sort of forest creature, all in fleeces and furs for winter but with all the decorations of the festival, a crown of leaves, not thorns like holly or the Jesus crown; rather it is a flow of that weedy vine, the kind used to treat a cow’s udder, draped and woven into the unkempt beard still a youthful golden color. He is helping himself to the fish on my fire.
“You caught me by surprise. Are you with the tribe of hunters that was here?”
“Of course not! I thought you were with that tribe? They’ve moved on you know.”
“I Know. I still plan to follow them. I’m known as Ezra.”
“Very fine to meet you Ezra; I am a thief, so I make it a practice not the share my name.”
“A thief you say?”
“Yes, and I’ve stolen these fish. There must have been a hook and line. That would be how they would leave it.”
“So why would they leave it like that?”
“You’re not a believer are you?”
“I have beliefs. Maybe I seem a heretic in these times, but I’m a Christian.”
He laughs with a strained and plotted guffaw. “A Christian isn’t a ‘believer.’ It is Christian sin to believe. But the hunters — they are believers. They leave things for the fairies behind them, so the fairies will leave them alone. And it works. They aren’t bothered by fairy pranks. So it takes a thief to eat up these leavings the believers offer. Thank you for cooking my fish, and now I will have that line and hook, the fleece on your shoulders, your shoes, and whatever else you may have for me.”