Historical setting: 589 C.E. An inn on the road to Châlons
Ana has serious questions about birthing sheep surgically, but these men aren’t at all interested in her need to learn. It might be my own wisdom of the ages, or just my gender, but I can see Ana’s persistence and fearlessness is how she finds her way into troubles. Doesn’t she notice that these drunken men aren’t safe instructors in midwifery?
“Ana” I interrupt, “let’s find a teacher for you among the shepherds near Poitiers. We should get some sleep now. We have a long ride tomorrow.”
Now alone with Ana in the loft of the inn she’s angry with me; blaming me for calling her away from her instructors.
“Ana, those men were drunk. And they had no concern at all about your need to learn how to deliver a lamb. They were eyeing you as an object of vexatious womanhood. They weren’t trustworthy.”
“Vexatious womanhood?” She says that slowly with her teeth clenched, and her glaring blue eyes icy cold and piercing me.
“I didn’t mean that as it sounded. I meant, they aren’t seeing you as the wise physician, but as their own idea of woman… But clearly they aren’t knowledgeable of women.”
“’Vexatious’ is not a shepherd’s word. It’s your word Laz. First you soothe my fears of men, showing me only pirates and my own wayward imagining makes me afraid and now that I’ve learned to trust, you say I actually should fear men even when they know something I wish to learn. I think you are trying to control me.”
“Control you? Ana, no one can control you. Not even me, your husband who only wants you to be safe! Don’t you see how your fearlessness sets you in danger?”
“In danger of what? Two drunken shepherds?”
“Especially two drunken shepherds. They’re the worst kind of shepherds. I promise you Ana, we will search out some sober shepherds with all the lambing experience you wish to discuss, and you may meet with them in a way more suited to your gifts for learning.”
“You have to promise we will take time out for that. I need to know this, Laz. I really need to know.”
“I promise. Good night Ana. I love you.”
Dear God, thank you for letting me be the safe arms for Ana while she learns what to fear. Amen. I can see fear is a necessary boundary she hasn’t yet learned to navigate.
(Continues Tuesday, August 3)