Historical setting: 589 C.E. Châlons
I learn that the King was expecting me to take a message on to Father Columbanus to tell him everything will change. In fact we will be leading the construction crew — the same workers who already know how to build a monastery as they have done here in Châlons and they will restore another ruin to become a new monastery at Luxovium.
Also, Ana heard that the envoy from the Bishop of Rome brought the news of a death of that bishop. Now the bells will toll everywhere that has bells. And the tolling of Châlons’ newly cast bell is heard throughout this city voicing a shared sorrow that falls on everyone with a deep dirge regardless of one’s awareness that Rome had a bishop. It is a grief born in the fear of plague even if the Bishop of Rome was of no importance to these people. In Rome, as in Tours, the autumn rains filled the rivers over their banks so the Tiber flooded the city and spread plague.
Ana, a woman of science, tells me it is a natural cause and effect. “The floods swam with the rats, and the rats swam from building to house with plague, and the plague struck down Pope Pallagius.”
Dear God, I know you share grief with the whole of humankind now. The prayers we speak aloud with others are for a named bishop, but I know you also care for each of us, even the cow and the donkey, not just kings and popes. Amen.
Some ask, “How is it that Rome disobeyed the will of God so these plagues would fall upon that city – the floods, the rats, the death of the bishop?” The Christian magic of these dark times so long after Jesus, only sees God’s judgment in this.
Some Christians fear the curses of a distant and angry human-like God. Pagans with many gods can see it as a power play by one talisman or charm over another visiting humankind in magic and signs. As for myself, and maybe Ana too, we are affected by these patterns of death and life, but also we swim in the love so vast it envelopes every person and all of nature whether or not one notices that it is God’s love that is with us. Simply, God is, and God is love.
We need to know that just now.
(Continues Tuesday, November 1, 2022)