Historical setting: 590 C.E. Cottage between Annegray and Luxeuil
After our midday meal Brother Servant is on his way taking a bird, and leaving the two nuns here with Colleen and Ana. I find that this is a good time to work alone in the stable to hone my winter projects, the cradle for two, and an oaken churn. I’ve already completed the bucket for milking, and Colleen has been using it for a few weeks now. And I happened to find a fallen forked branch about that time also that I shaved and shaped into a fine one-legged milking stool for her. So at least Colleen finds me useful as a carpenter.
Thank you dear Jesus, for teaching me to plane the edges of wood that they tighten together to make a good churn; and thank you dear friend for teaching me to hone the jagged edges among people that I can recognize the beautiful gift of a house full of people enjoying one another’s company. Amen.
I hear the women chattering like birds filling the high limbs of trees at an autumn flocking. It feels like a welcoming nest for the babies we are waiting to take into our arms very soon. Dear God, stay close. Amen.
And so it is, only a day after the women arrive, I am in the stable ever smoothing the inside of the two-baby cradle when Sister Marcella comes to tell me to bring some water from the well. I understand what this means. They are finding me a task so I won’t be in the way of the women’s gift. But I fully intend to be with Ana at this time. It isn’t enough for me to hear news, whatever the news may be, from one of these chaste sisters who vows never to understand this bond of marriage. Yes, I know that isn’t a fair assumption. Each of us has our lives and different ways of knowing others with all sorts of variations on working together for a purpose. And didn’t I just ask Jesus to smooth the rough edges of having so many guests at this most intimate time? I asked that we may make a useful bond like the slats of a bucket despite our differences. There is no sense for me to go into that women’s room already resentful of taking orders from women who aren’t Ana. So I need to prepare myself with humility and forgiveness.
(Continues Tuesday, February 14)