Historical setting: 589 C.E. when Brittany was forest
It’s a long slog in the cold rain. The thief complains incessantly about his load only reminding me he is indeed a thief with a sour attitude. If I choose to help him drag this excess he will rob me while I’m doing his work.
Now we come upon a tree still winter-naked but draped in the bows of hunters or warriors. Each bow is well made, well-tempered ready to be strung for the hunt. I suppose this means we are very near the pagan village.
Without even a wonder the thief leaves his sledge and runs to the tree to gather up the loot.
“What are you doing?” I ask with accusation.
“I’m harvesting bows, Ezra, man. This is the strangest fairy gifting I’ve ever found!”
“I don’t think this is meant as a gift to quill the evils of the underworld. I think we are very near the village and this is where they hang up their bows.”
“Why would they hang their bows on a tree outside the village? That makes no sense. What if robbers come to their village? They would need these.”
“You mean one robber, don’t you?”
“Okay, one robber and a Christian. How will they defend themselves?”
“I think the hanging up of the bows is an ancient symbol of peace. They don’t bring their weapons into their homes because they are telling any visitors they are unafraid. Weapons are a sign of fear. [Blogger’s note] Hanging up weapons is very ancient sign of peace.”
“So they leave their weapons on a tree for their attackers to be armed when they are not?”
“Well, yes, it is a statement of courage.”
“It has to be a trick.”
“I can see why you would only see a threat or a trick. It’s a different kind of power than simply flexing muscle and taking things by force. It’s the peaceful dare not to fight. I see it as a sign of welcome; it is the accepted vulnerability of peacemaking as dangerous as it may seem to you.”
The thief still thinks it’s a trick, but apparently he’s decided not to steal these and he’s putting them back. I believe it’s a sign of peace, so I hang my bow on a low branch, also.
[Blogger’s note] This notion that weapons—guns in modern example– are a sure sign of fear has been proven in American courtrooms when a shooter is exonerated because he cried and said he was afraid and so he killed people. Weapons speak of fear, not of power, not of courage.