Historical setting: 589 C.E. In the Vosges Mountains
Ana tells of her meeting with Father Columbanus. “The intended healing from my fears had been a dismal failure. All the ancient legends of woman and snake would make me the obvious perpetrator of evil in this. So I’m pretty sure the young monk used the notion of woman as temptress as his defense and yet he was sent away into the custody of a Benedictine abbey more accustomed to training the very young. The father told me this to assure me he had not taken the side of the youth and he was opened to hearing me state an allegation against the young monk. But I only said that he was very young and his intention was to do a good deed.
“The father argued with what I thought was my kindness to not lay blame, and told me that by excusing his lust I was denying the youth his responsibility and in that way I was condoning it. He added that, had my fears been quelled, we would have shared in our delighting in the error and we both would have sinned.
“I didn’t resist making my confession. But what to do with me then was at issue. A women’s community would expect a virgin so the rape by the pirates alone would be a discredit, though my training as a physician would probably be a more favorable recommendation, but maybe my training in pagan medicine would be against me. And I don’t know if being literate would have carried any sway either way. In the end the father weighed all the options and offered these walls on these back hills of Annegray. The eunuch, Brother Servant, was assigned.
“Now I find that this isolation does indeed fulfill the curse of the pirates, that I would never be a wife or mother. So here I am distanced from any possibility of family and have only my fears to haunt me.”
We work at the inks for a while in silence because there is no better answer to Ana’s story than my silence. Dear God help me silence my thoughts that I could better cure her fears than could a young monk. But of course any prayer to ask not to think of something is only answered by thinking more of that thing. So I am thinking, I could have done so much better than a young monk at this task because I already know well the value of patience over lust. But my mind right now is the battlefield between lust and patience.
(Continues Tuesday, May 24)