Historical setting: 589 C.E. Châlons to Luxeuil
Now I’ve learned this band of men who were supposed to have a leader were sent to help turn the ruin called Luxovium into a substantial refuge for the Irish father and his monks. These pilgrims and workers thought it would be only eight miles to Luxeuil. That was a misunderstanding. Eight miles is the distance between Annegray and Luxovium so here they are on this long journey unprepared.
The four who absconded with the purse were King’s soldiers sent to lead the others. Of the eight left, four are monks on a pilgrimage sent by the Father Felix to help establish a scriptorium. They brought the handcart well supplied for the work of copying scriptures. And they each have the small traveler’s bags as monks carry on a pilgrimage. The other four are powerful men who, when set on a task for pay will probably do a good day’s work. But they have nothing with them. I think they too would turn back if they could, but now we are a whole day into this trek and here we are on a cold night in November with eight men and two mules with no source of food or shelter or even enough resources to walk back to Châlons. Hungry and angry and tired they could become a fearsome danger to the four monks and also to Ana and Colleen and probably me too, and of course to little Jack the donkey, and maybe the cow would get eaten.
Dear God take care of us here. My prayer echoes back that ever familiar holy answer: “Don’t be afraid; don’t let these men starve; care for them; never forget they are beloved too.”
The nine of us men gather at this fire and pass around the pot of porridge the women have provided. The food is thinned out enough that everyone can dip a cup. The monks then consider the story they’ve heard of the feeding of the multitudes from the Gospel of John. That is unlike the other gospel’s stories of miraculous feedings by Jesus. In John, a child steps forward and offers his own little lunch, three loaves and two fishes, and somehow, by the holy sign of God’s love for all people, sharing makes the little become plenty. The sign is in the sharing. [John 6:1-14] Blessing the bread the monks have brought, and passing it, there is enough for everyone.
(Continues Tuesday, November 8)