Historical setting: 589 C.E. Cottage in the Vosges
“So it will be longer walk for us to Luxovium.” I’m just thinking aloud to the Brother Servant. “We will have to go ten miles now.”
“You’ve no idea where Luxeuil is, Ezra? Your hill cottage is a stopping place on the way there. People going from one to the other will stop here for a rest.”
“That will be wonderful!” answers Ana.
Now inside it is cold and dark and here are heaps of grain bags and bundles of garden roots laying hither and thither. A rat runs and hides. The stable is wonderful, but the cottage is the storage barn for the harvest –ragged sacks of grain with chewed mouse holes, and heaps of carrots, beets and turnips with the sweet smell of a barn and the deep mossy fragrance of root cellar. The monks moved our hearthstone to the far wall to warm the stable side so the new roof I made was now opened for the smoke. Snow has fallen through both the new and the old smoke holes, so I’ll have patching to do first off.
We set about starting the fire and moving things to make a suitable place for people. Ana would be laying fire logs, but Colleen objects to her doing anything at all; so I finish making the fire, while Colleen inspects the little backroom and finds the folded blanket and sheet set aside in a nearly dry place. She prepares the big bed for Ana to rest. Brother Servant comes in from the stable to collect some oats and a bundle of thorny hay to please our cow and donkey. I have to roll the large caldron to the new hearth place. Checking outside I find the well is still fresh and deep.
Now stoic Colleen seems a bundle of busy – sending Ana to bed with a warm stone from near the fire, at her feet– checking on Jack in the stable. Does she think Brother Servant wouldn’t know how to feed and water a donkey? And now she is creating a porridge for all of us with a meager cup of barley and some fresh milk, but no finer flavors of herbs. It’s just as poverty would demand.
Dear God, thank you for this warm circle of home, this abundance and promise. Amen.
(Continues Tuesday, November 29)