Historical setting: 589 C.E. Luxeuil
The workers at the new monastery are hanging the bell in the belfry even as the support is being constructed. I have one of the guidelines in hand ready to help steer what the mules will heft. The tower craftsmen are up top, ready to harness the weight of the bell into a place above the oratorio, which incidentally, does have a roof. In breathless silence we ease the huge iron piece into its place with no sound at all. It’s only a plan, not a fulfillment of a bell until it is rung. The carpenters are still building a place where the rope will dangle from the clapper. A tower room will be below the bell so a monk can pull the cord and ring the hour. Everyone is anxious to hear the sound but maybe it won’t be rung until the Christ Mass.
That would be a welcome use of a newly cast bell – to celebrate another who was newly cast — the infant Jesus. It seems the gods of other beliefs are already of age when they are known. Even Diana, whose birth is storied, jumped from the womb fully able to help deliver her twin brother. But for Christians, we celebrate all the stages of a holy life and, for us, even the precarious stage of helpless infancy seems significant. The Christian hum is love, not power, so wouldn’t an infant teach that best? In all my own ages newness always seems ahead of me as the unknown.
I spend tonight in these chambers and tomorrow at first light I will follow my own tracks back into the Vosges to our cottage.
The walk back this morning takes only a few hours even with the snow. When I left I had prepared everything as though I would be gone a month not knowing then where I was going or for how long. Now I realize it’s barely a half-day’s walk, and it’s an easy walk along the creek. It’s no surprise then that my arrival back at the cottage was nothing very significant. The waft of inside air from the cottage is the sour scent of the abundance of milk. Having a cow means that we have milk enough for soups and sipping, and now Colleen is experimenting with cheese. It does smell a bit like an Irish barn here.
At least Ana is glad to see me.
(Continues Tuesday, December 20)