Historical setting: 590 C.E. Cottage between Annegray and Luxeuil
Both babies are well today. The three nuns-to-be and I use a little flask with a spoon top to feed one of them while Ana has the other. It is a very nice thing to hold a baby and to nurture his strength with milk while his bright eyes stare into the parent face linking soul to sound, so of course I sing. “Lu, lu,” and the baby shapes his lips to “oooo.” Of course my little man can sing! As long as the song is this one note and syllable of his own choosing. These Sisters think I’m silly. Wait until my hands are free and I will build a harp. Then they will recognize the baby sound as singing. It is all about the imagination and the accompaniment.
I carry in the bundles of wood to keep both fires, and we have two caldrons of water aways filled: one for washing and the other for cooking. Ana is strong and able to tend to the babies, and she helps with the ceaseless washing of the linens. So in this quiet moment when the women are in cooking, and the babies are sleeping, Ana and I launder the endless baby clothes, rinsing and washing, rinsing again and wringing, hanging them on the lines by the fire in the bedroom. It is in this moment we can talk.
“What should we name them?”
“Is it too soon to give them names?”
“Ana, how could it be too soon for names? We would surely grieve for them were they not to be. Our grief would need a name, but so too does our gratitude for their little beings, their sounds and songs and cries… we already know them. So what names should we call them by?”
“I already call the second one Gabriel. He shows me courage through the most questionable darkness, and through his trust and perseverance he speaks the incessant angel message, ‘don’t be afraid.’ In his baby grapple for message he speaks of God’s relentless love.”
“Gabriel, he is. Did we name him, or just discover his name?“
The first boy stirs in the cradle, and Ana goes over and picks him up, even before he cries. She asks him his name. He stares into her face still wondering at the meaning of any words at all.
Sister Marcella taps on the door.