This morning after prayers and prayers again I find Brother August and his new apprentice at work on the great stone of marble. It’s in this state of creation where a halo is emerging from the center at the top, and it seems affixed to a head that is bowed. Already I can see Brother August’s artist’s eye has wandered from the standard. Art in a world where rule is rule and everything is either right or wrong there would be no nuance for a Virgin with a bowed head. In these times when original sin is sex which implies that sin pervades every birth except that of Jesus (and a Caesar or two claimed to have been birthed by virgins), it would seem to be the rule that such an otherworldly Virgin would have a gaze fixed on anything but the child.
“Brother August, my friend, I’m so glad to see this new art as it emerges.”
“Brother Lazarus! So good to see you again. Did your family win that war against Pagans?”
“I suppose you would say we won. We had a victory feast. But mostly we learned it wasn’t the Pagan tribe that came onto our land killing and burning. It was pirates.”
“Then did you battle the pirates?”
“No. The young woman they captured escaped on her own. So I can continue with pacifism as my truest virtue.”
“Pacifism, a virtue? What about celibacy?”
“No, not so much of that. I’m married now. And I see the Virgin of your art still bows her head so her’s will still be a humble prayer also.”
“Change the subject if you wish. But I want to know what woman could woo you from your holy commitment.”
“She’s one who knows she is loved by God and yet she allows me my heresies.”
The young apprentice looks shocked at my mention of heresy.
“Brother August knows of my obstinate resistance to Trinity and creed.”
“No wonder you have fallen under temptation by a woman,” assesses this youth.
I choose not to argue sin and redemption with a novice. I’ve seen it myself; the innocent parental-love of God for all of Creation has been unspooled and wound into a complicated web of sin and salvation by men. I would say “by humans,” but really it was a patriarchal thing. It was an obstacle course set out by men to make a journey to God into a trial. I don’t have to answer to the youth.