Historical setting: 589 C.E. Annegray in the Vosges
“We’d nearly given up hope for finding Ana until I was on this journey to Annegray and I learned from this servant monk that Ana may have been captured by pirates. That’s why I sent the child’s garden tool with this man. If it was our missing Anatase she would recognize it and we would both know she was found.”
“So you were a monk at Ligugé?”
Now I’m dismissed to the join with the other pilgrims keeping the hours while the father is going on to his solitary place for a Lenten retreat. It seems there is nothing that would stop me from just returning to Ana but that would betray the frail and hapless thread of trust the father may have in me as an obedient as monk.
I’m assigned to a guest room for pilgrims. This place was an old Roman fortress so it has walls and boundaries, but very little accommodation with actual rooms for guests. I’ve read this Rule of Columbanus we follow here. So I know most of the hours I spend here will be in the oratorio chanting the psalms with the brothers and other pilgrims.
A bird flies overhead where we have no roof.
There is a monk tending the birds in this little room next to the oratorio. As a bird lands on a high rail this keeper of the birds takes it in his hand and removes the message, then places it into the aviary where it is safe from predators.
“Could I ask you about this?” I have lots of questions.
He answers, “I’m just the assistant here. The brother who keeps these birds is away.”
“Is that one of the birds that Ana had at her house?”
“How would you know of Ana?”
“I was taken there for healing when I was near death. I am of the family where she was an apprentice in healing. She was kidnapped from our family so I was glad to learn now that she’s safe. We’d been searching for her.”
“No one but one monk and Father Columbanus are even supposed to know of her. So you should say nothing more about this. As far as we are concerned here, she is nothing more to talk about than a holy angel.”
He calls it “The Rule of Ana.”
“And there should be nothing to say to any holy angels that can’t be said in prayers.”