Historical setting: 589 C.E. The cottage in the mountains
Ana and I are stumbling over steep cobblestones of reunion. Her dream of finding her beloved teacher alive and well, welcoming her back is dashed, and instead she gets handed a man with a wound.
She breaks into my silence with words, “Of course you have nothing to say. I shouldn’t pour out my own sorrows on you Laz, you need to rest now.”
At this waking earth and heaven are new again. Old patterns of woes and hurts fade to pale in the morning light. Ana still plays a child’s song and on clay flute. She puts it aside and ruffs the hearth with the bristles of her little broom. It’s a tidy room that has no roof. Rains come and go, sun makes mist of the damp, now it is all glittering new.
At least today I have strength enough not to be a constant trouble for Ana. Thank you God. She is preparing for a visit from Father Columbanus’s servant who brings her supplies and assignments and keeps her posted on events of Annegray. Then he returns to the monastery with, as she says, “whatever one would expect to receive from an attending angel. It’s in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus went off and fasted and prayed those forty days of forever in the wilderness, with wild beasts, tempted by Satan and ministered to by angels. [Mark 1:12] So Father Columbanus set foot in this wilderness as a ‘desert father’ in imitation of Jesus surely expecting the wild beasts and angels and devils. I choose not to be a beast or a devil, so I simply make my effort to attend them as angelically as is humanly possible.”
“So you made the choice not be the tempter?”
“Apparently, the temptations that come to monks in these current wildernesses are not the kinds that afflicted Jesus. Jesus had to contend with temptations like: using his superpowers to help others rather than showing off by leaping off cliffs, or choosing between all the power and wealth in the world or love for God and neighbor. That’s what it says in Luke, you know. [Luke 4:1-15]”
“When it became obvious that even the most devout young monks could yield to the base and simple temptation of lusting after sex simply by having a woman present, I was relegated to this distant cottage and the eunuch was assigned as messenger.”
(Continues Tuesday, March 29)