#39.9, Weds., Dec. 21, 2022

Historical setting: 589 C.E. a cottage between Annegray and Luxeuil

         Maybe Pagan magic was left in the fragrant wood I’ve gathered for our fire here, or maybe it is the warm spirit that is a Christian thing about this season. But today, celebration seems overwhelmed with the Creative Spirit of love. The only words that can speak of it are already worn soft-edged and sticky sweet. It seems almost wonderful to share our fire with these three dower monks. And wonderful too, is this gift of a wineskin they’ve brought and now poured through the kettle of hot milk to curdle a posset [footnote1] for the joyful celebration of the Christ Mass. And we have nuts and fruits, sour in the summer, but dried to sweetness in this season. The large pot has the venison stew all flavored with herbs. We have plenty in our stores this winter so our guests can stay this night in our stable loft and dream all night in the long, warm, sleep of wine.

         Thank you God, for friends, for all the people gathered here. Amen.

         Christmas morning, after the chores, Colleen thinks they have brought the empty bowl to fill up with cheese to take back and share with the others.  Maybe she’s right, but the cheese she started isn’t hardened yet.  Surely they must know these things would take time. When the three guests come in from prayers for the breakfast they seem to have left the proper silences of matins at the monastery. They are babbling on and on. We gather at the hearth in Ana’s room. They are going on incessantly about the wonders of the mysterious night when they were privy to a stay in the stable with a cow and a donkey just as it was in the bible story.

         “So what bible would that be?” I ask.

         “The Christian gospels of course!”

         “Don’t you know that story Brother Ezra?” One monk who doesn’t know me well asks. And then he goes on to tell it exactly like it isn’t written in Luke.

         “Joseph was a very old man and Mary nearly a child so of course she was a virgin.” [footnote2]

         “But not just any virgin,” adds another. “A virgin herself born sinless of immaculate conception.”

         “She was with child so Joseph got her a donkey for the journey.”

         Ana has heard enough of this story. “Laz, tell them how it really was.”

[footnote] The definition from “Oxford languages” for posset is “a drink made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or other alcoholic liquor and typically flavored with spices, drunk as a delicacy or as a remedy for colds.”

[footnote2] Apocryphal books circulating in the 1st and 2nd centuries C.E. are not in the cannon of Gospels but continue into religious legend detailing the life stories of Mary and Joseph and Mary’s mother. Does Christianity have Midrash?

(Continues tomorrow)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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