Historical setting: 589 C.E. In the Vosges Mountains
Ana continues her story. “Before this rape happened I could see a man’s good health and physical being as a thing of great beauty. I always considered human beings to be wonders of Creation. But then, after the curse I could see nothing but a filthy disgrace of the beauty of life. I thought I would always have to be alone until I saw the procession of chaste monks to follow.
“The young monk listened to me with a great intensity. Then he offered a prayer asking God to rescue me from the curse of sin. I hadn’t thought of it as a sin, because a sin seems like it would be a choice for me to avoid a temptation and I had no choice. I was captured. But maybe he meant the pirates’ sins. Whatever, I thought. Yes, I would want God to release me from my fear. Amen.
“He said we should meet again, and talk some more. Perhaps we could find a place distant from the others so no one would notice and have a bad thought about us together. I wondered how there could be a bad thought about a holy monk talking with a needy woman.
“We were already reaching the hills near Annegray when the young monk took me with a strong grip around my wrist and led me to a place in the wilderness he called a ‘secret place.’ He said as a child he was afraid of many things, but his father taught him that the true cure for fear was to face the fear and do that which fears you most; do it until you no longer fear. Does this make sense to you?” She asks me.
I answer, “Some fears protect us from danger. So I guess it isn’t a recommended cure for fear. It could be dangerous. Usually in my own fearful times I ask God’s guidance, and it reliably comes to me in the familiar words. ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear’ [I John 4:18a]. But in this case that kind of easy scripture answer seems ill advised. So maybe God answers these things without words but from the depths of our most intimate consciences. How did it come to you?”
“It was indeed, very intimate. The monk told me he was a virgin.”
(Continues Tuesday, May 17)