Historical setting: 589 C.E. Annegray in the Vosges
The keeper of the birds told me there is a “Rule of Ana.”
“It is forbidden to speak any notion that this ‘Ana’ you have called by name as anything but an angel.”
“I understand. I know this rule was made for her safety. May I be respectful.”
“It is forbidden even to think of her as a woman.”
I have a thought just now. I try to make a new topic of it. I ask the monk if they raise the birds here.
“Yes. We may have more hatchlings soon.”
Apparently I am allowed to ask about the birds.
“Are they hard to care for?”
“They are very much like chickens.”
“I see no roosters.”
“Yes you do. You just don’t know which are hens and which are cocks, they look alike to someone who doesn’t know.”
“Of course. Do they all carry messages?”
“What are you thinking? Whatever does this matter to you?”
“I’m only thinking of angels now, you know, the wings and all that.”
Try as I might, I can’t stop thinking of this idea I have. What if Brother Servant could take Ana some birds of her own to raise, and make their home at her house? Then, she can receive messages from us, and she will have several birds that always come back to her in the same way the birds now fly away from her to come back here. She will have a community of birds and when one is carried here, it can fly a message to her from us.
The monk reads my silence. “No more thoughts about that holy angel; fill your mind with the sacrifices of Lent, nothing more.”
When someone says “don’t think of…” I always think of it, even if I wasn’t already thinking of it. I can’t intentionally, not think about something. Dear God, please check on your holy angel Ana just now, while I try to forget her.
But even when someone says the name Father Columbanus, I think of birds, because his name means these families of pigeons and doves. And when I think of birds, I think of this idea and then I think of Ana.
I’ll speak to Brother Servant about this when he returns. Perhaps Ana could have some fledglings.
The keeper of the birds reads my silence once again.
“I told you, don’t even think of her.”