Historical setting: 589 C.E. In the Vosges Mountains
We are sitting here at the table after our meal, and Brother Servant tells us “Father Columbanus is dealing with the bishops of this land over the reports brought back to other abbeys by the Lenten pilgrims. It’s not just our Celtic tonsures they are complaining about; it’s our different day for Easter. We use an older calendar that considers the Passover in the Jesus story, but here they call Easter the second Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox. It seems random and Pagan to me. Some of us don’t want to change our ways just because this wilderness was already peopled with these Christians who’ve invented their own rule, the Rule of Benedict.
“And now we’ve heard a rumor the bishops are considering sending the father back to the island where he came from.”
“I thought he was given permission to use Annegray by the king.”
“Yes, but only by the king. The father didn’t even know of the bishops when he arrived here. He was expecting to find a barbarian wilderness. So when we arrived in this land he went to the king for permission and particularly asked for a place in the depths of wilderness. The king graciously gave him the ruin of an old Roman fortress.”
“There is a bit of irony finding Irish monks in a Roman ruin.” I have observed.
“The irony of meeting the Christ in a gutted out Roman fortress didn’t escape either the father or the king but now these bishops appear to have sprouted up from the Roman root and they are complaining.”
And just now our little ruin of a cottage with hardly a roof seems a beautiful refuge but it is looking more and more like rain today. The clouds scurry faster across the springtime skies as the servant monk takes the empty bird box when he leaves to return across the hills to Annegray hurrying off before the clouds let loose.
I love both the wise and the beautiful natures of Ana though I know she would have me choose other words for her gifts so we stay here at the table talking until the rains start. We talk about dreams for a hilltop farm, though we avoid the most important thing we both know. We cautiously say nothing at all about our dreams for our lives together. And we haven’t really considered out loud our frailties — my patience or her fears.
(Continues Tuesday, June 1)