Historical setting: 602 C.E. Luxeuil
Our packs are weightier than they were for the pilgrimage. My boys set a fast pace walking as they imagine they will soon be horsemen. They still muddle in the fantasies of children, sharing the chatter of dreams between them. I seem no longer included in their world.
Today we arrive at Luxeuil, a very different place with the pilgrims mostly gone and now, desolate are the areas where we were all gathered in the camp and the courtyards for visitors. The chanting of the nuns continues in the halls and behind the walls assuming always, God stayed to listen. Or maybe, it is the voice of God herself in this psalm. Today our prayers are for a safe journey.
The boys go on to the stable while I wait here at the gate for Brother Servant to come out and give us our assignment.
I’m relieved to know we won’t be crossing the mountains or riding to Rome. He said the bishops are meeting in Châlons as the place most central for the nobility. It’s a city Ana and I visited on our journey some years ago. So I release the bird to Ana with the message of our destination, now known.
We soon learn our sponsor, the mayor of Metz, Dux Waldalenus, intends the message from the Father to be delivered by an entourage of prancing horses. But Father Columbanus discusses an approach to the bishops that is less ostentatious since the purpose of the message is to excuse himself from appearing before the authority of that council. The Father insists on no swords, and no more than four on horseback so not to appear as warriors.
As Brother Servant calls out the abbot’s orders, “All we need are the two young boys and their humble, unarmed father, Ezra.” And again he reminds us, “Father Columbanus chooses not to give any appearance of an army prepared for war.”
Baro Dithrum, like any good soldier, puts those orders above his personal wish to present a strong show of force. The band of royal swordsmen are sent back to Metz. Deep in my heart I celebrate the little paradox that the least of us, the most humble and ill-prepared, are chosen for this important task so that it not be considered a military challenge to the bishops.
The baro and my sons are disappointed this isn’t going to be a sword slashing event. There was a fantasy in their minds.