#40.7, Tues., Jan. 17, 2023

Historical setting: 590 C.E. The church in the woods

         I’ve found my way to a little place on the mountainside overlooking the ruin of Annegray. Here the only words the priest can hear from another human is whatever that person chooses to shout to her.  I assume she hears much more of Creation than I allow myself to hear in the milieu of everyday life with mostly people speaking to me.

         I mean to explain my visit.

         “Pastor, there were some hunters who stopped by our cottage, not more than an hour’s walk from here, and they told us they came here for the Christ Mass.”

         “Yes, lots of people came this year. I assumed our numbers would always dwindle, with the Catholic Christians below us gathering so many followers. I’m Mater Doe; when my husband was yet living many hunters came here. Still my own expectations are far less than the grace of God. I have no thought or guess as to who is the church in the Mind of God. But here I am. And so it is.”

         “And so it is.”

         “Excuse me,” She says, “I don’t hear people when they are speaking softly.”

         In a stronger voice I answer, “And so it is.”

         She clearly hears the voice of the bird outside the window. She turns and looks when it stops pecking at the seeds for a moment to coo its subtle song. She throws another handful of seed to the dove.

         “The Irish Father is named for such a bird as that.  Have you met him?” I shout.

         “I have no need to visit that place. The hunters who come for blessings tell me of them.”

         “The monks will be moving soon, I hear. The King has already granted permission for Father Columbanus to gather his followers at the baths of Luxeuil; so you will be alone here.”

         “I’m really not alone.”

         “Of course, I just meant all the activity there will cease.”

         “I probably won’t miss that.”

         As I explore the niches for various gods I ask, “Are all that worship here in this time Christian? Or do the followers of these other gods also come here on their feast days?”

         “I don’t ask the why of theology of worshippers here. I don’t indoctrinate so there’s no need to pry.  Here we eat together, I say blessings, sometimes there is dancing, sometimes there is quiet prayer. Here we just worship.”

         I find a place to sit near enough that she can hear my questions when I shout.

(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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