Post #21.4, Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. Eve’s Garden

         We’re walking in Eve’s garden and I am asking Eve about the sorrows of my missing years with this family.  Eve tells me she knew of her blindness for many years, even while she had her sight. As a healer she knows it follows the small pox and she bears the scars of the pox. I argued with her in the times past, blaming her for not maintaining her reading skills as an adult.

         “I’m so sorry Eve, that I didn’t understand your worry then. But you gave me such a lame excuse; you said you needed to fit in with the ways of the times when women don’t read. I thought that was a strange argument from you. You always seem so unbent by popular opinion and as wise as the ancient women, some who were scholars in their own times.”

         “I forgive you Papa. I don’t need to forgive God for my blindness though. We’ve come to terms with this. The hurt was in the fear of not seeing. And with the helper that I have now my dependence on a child has also brought me into a circle of love I never expected to know; the blindness itself opened me to many new paths of learning that the likes of you, who see with your bright eyes will never know. There is one hurt but many days with the blessings of healing.”

         Perspective becomes excuse.

         We have come the full circle on this path. I’ve found my daughter Eve is older and silvered and clinging to a tattered bit of wisdom now. Thank you God for this beautiful child with all of her gifts to help and heal. Stay close in our needs.

         Anatase has returned from her errand and is already waiting on the garden bench with the pages and she is reading ahead; maybe she is even reading the sad pages I meant to save her from seeing.

         “Anatase, I would like to skip around through the pages because I may need to hear some particular things from Old Nic. I’m hoping someone will be taking a cart down to Poitiers so that I might ride along to go and see where Nic is buried. Today I want you to read to me about the monastery called Ligugé. Did he write any pages about Brother August and Brother Joel?”

(Continues tomorrow)

Post #21.3, Thursday, June 3, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The garden path of Eve

         Eve is still feeling she’s to blame in the death of Little Margey because she couldn’t save her. We are talking about forgiveness. “Do you know God loves you?”

         “Of course Papa. And this pagan healer doesn’t need to hear your God words over this. It was God who came and took her away!”

         “So you have to forgive God, and then forgive yourself. That’s a lot of forgiving you have to do before you can know you are forgiven too.”

          “I don’t need a sermon, Papa. Your friend the old monk came up here when Ezra and Daniel were yet stacking the stones over little Margey and the old monk already said prayers and brought God into this. I didn’t go down there because I didn’t want to get God and God’s man involved in my own hurt. But then the old monk brought Colleta up here to tell me it wasn’t my fault. And I did sort of fear that Colleta blamed me, so it was good to hear her tell the old monk and also me that it wasn’t my fault.”

         “So her parents don’t blame you, but do you still blame yourself?”

         “The Jesus prayer only says ‘forgive us as we forgive others,’ It doesn’t say, ‘forgive us as we forgive ourselves and God too.’”

         “Yes, but if you can blame God then don’t you suppose you will need to forgive God also?”

         Eve takes a long pause, but the garden path has not circled back to the house yet. She gropes another topic though not a better one.

         “So what other sorrows do you wish to ask of me?” She asks with her coldest commanding voice.

         “I wanted to know of your blindness. When I was here last, did you know you were losing your sight?”

         “Why does that matter Papa; are you seeking my forgiveness for your insensitivity then?”

         “I guess I am. I argued that you needed to learn reading, yet you probably remembered how to read and also you knew that would be lost with your sight. So when I blamed you for letting loose of your childhood learning did you already know you were going blind?”

         “Blindness is something I’ve known of even before I saw the shadows myself. People who have the scars of the pox as do I may have avoided the dark of death, but the dark of life is always before us.”        

(Continues Tuesday, June 8)

Post #21.2, Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The walking path in Eve’s garden

         Eve asks, “Were there other things you thought a child shouldn’t read?”

         “I want to know what happened to little Margey, and I should hear of your blindness from you.”

         Eve answers, “Margey is buried down near Ezra and Colleta’s cottage near the newer spread of vineyards. She died when she as a small child. I couldn’t save her.  It was a terrible grief for all of us.

         “In those days I was able to see with only a few shadows taunting my vision. So it was fine that Ezra and Colleta and the children all went in the wagon to the village near Tours to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus with Colleta’s family. I was doing the chores for both houses expecting them to be gone a week when they returned after just two days with all of them sick, poisoned by the feast all spread out for sharing on a sunny board. All but little Margey took the remedies I gave them, and when the poisons were passed, they took a potion for strength and that set them right in only another day, but we could get no medicine or eve water into the tiny child. She was already cold and fading. Papa, I could do nothing to save her!”

         “It was good you saved the others. You can’t blame yourself.”

         “I was swaddling her, rocking her, begging God to let us keep her tender little life but God said no, and she slipped away to heaven.  Papa, I don’t just let people die! People who are nothing to me come and are rescued, but she was my own family.”

         “Eve, my precious child, all these blames and hurts of our own helplessness are …”

         “Don’t preach, Papa. I already know I’m supposed to use hurts to empower some kind of new lesson for my own betterment, but it seems such a needless loss. And I don’t want your excuses for a cruel God. And without the empty excuses I have nothing. I want to find a punishment in it, but if I can’t even name my sin how can I fix it?

         “Colleta says she has lots of sins. She is such a good Christian, even just by being born she had sin so God forgives her. But I can’t even find what to say when I ask God’s forgiveness in this.”

 (Continues tomorrow)

Post #21.1, Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The walking path in Eve’s garden

         Eve is telling me of negotiations Daniel had with the druid when arranging to bring this very young child here as Eve’s apprentice.

         She explains, “When Daniel was last trading with the cooper the druid appeared and inquired about the progress of Anatase. Daniel and Ezra think the pagans plan to take her back very soon to work as a healer, or worse the pagan tribe may have something more terrifying in mind for her. Whatever, Daniel made a promise to return her to them when she is fully trained as a practitioner in the arts of healing.”

          “I‘ve got an idea for biding for time here. Since you will decide the measure of her education just leave an important part for her to learn when you determine she is ‘old enough’.”

         “She already knows the remedies and recognizes herbs and potions; she understands so much. What else could there be? Oh wait, now that I think of it there is something held back. I’ve hardly mentioned the rituals of pagan healing– the chants and spells. My pagan teacher thought chants were important but I use the Christian prayer in that place. I haven’t used a pagan chant, or even mentioned it to her for fear it would put her into the tangled briars with Christians one day.”

         “So if you hold that back from her until you determine she is of age, you can truthfully tell them she needs to stay longer. If they test her on pagan magic that will only prove true.”        

         “Yes, of course that’s it. Learning the chants could take forever. And maybe I won’t even start that too soon. This is a fine idea.”

         That solved, thank you God.

         “Eve, I have another concern. I’m thinking maybe Nic wrote things Anatase should skip over.”

         “You think your friend Nic revealed secrets from Anatase in the pages?”

          “I wasn’t so much thinking of secrets, more of sorrows that a cheerful child needn’t read.”

         “You know well, Papa, keeping sorrows up above the view of children steals from them the chance to have an adult guide their way through troubles.”

         “I guess you may have a good sense for teaching the hard lessons of grief, don’t you, Eve.”

         “I was once left a grieving orphan, Papa. I was the apprentice to the old hag of healing so I was privy to many sorrows after that. Grief comes hinged to love; we needn’t pretend it is only for adults.”

 [Art footnote]  The ladybug…”had the three colors of the primordial goddess Holle. It is to her womb, her cauldron, that the spirits of disease, the incarnated spirits in general, return when they leave the world… And just like the stork, ladybugs – also called beetles of Mary, Ladybirds, sun child, Mary’s chafer, and so on can also bring the children’s souls into the world. [This is] an old Swiss nursery rhyme.” Storl, Wolf D. The Untold History of Healing: Plant lore and medicinal magic from the stone age to present, 2017, Berkely, California, North Atlantic Books. Page 158.

(Continues tomorrow)

Post #20.12, Thursday, May 27, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve

         I‘m walking with Eve, so we may talk about the promise made to have Anatase. I also want to learn what Nic’s pages may say of sorrows. I fear this child may come upon the woes of our family or maybe I can have her skip over those things. Eve thinks we shouldn’t hide our sorrows but let Anatase see the truths of grief in order that in her own times of sorrow she know others share this.

         “But my worry is for family things I don’t want to hear in a child’s reading lesson.”

         “Papa, the things we should keep hidden from Anatase won’t be in the pages. Before Daniel brought her here, rumors of her ‘magic’ were spreading in the Christian village deep in the forests of Alemanni. These superstitions spewed stories of charmed and magical children. It frightened her family so they gave her to the Christian priest. We needn’t tell Anatase her mother gave her away.”

         “Maybe she knows. She remembers things well.”

         “Papa,” Eve talks on, “She was only four years old. Rumors [footnote] run among Christians of the Black Forest  that pagan tribes feed their gods the most perfect and charmed children. They dress them up pretty only to throw them into bogs, tied and torn, entombed in earth simply to win a favor from some little angry god of theirs.

         “Daniel goes up that way from time to time to the cooper to buy oaken barrels for the wines.”

         “Sure, oak barrels make the best wine.”

         “He says the wine learns from the sacred wood where Christians tussle with druids over the holiness of trees.

         “So when he was there he saw the pagan priest with the child and he arranged to take that child to be my apprentice. Since no one is suffering droughts or quakes or plagues or fires in these times the gods don’t seem hungry for a sacrifice right off. So she was sent on with Daniel with the agreement she would be returned to them when she is fully trained.

         “Papa, she’s been with me half her life! I love her as though she were my own child! What would I do if she were taken from me? And what would she do? My home is her home. I only hope she knows nothing of this.”

[footnote] Rumors, even in these times there is no certainty about the findings of bog bodies in Northern Europe. This blogger assumes such preserved bodies found at times in digging for peat were also present to spur rumors of human sacrifice for these ancients.        

(Continues Tuesday, June 1)

Post #20.11, Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve

         I asked Anatase how Eve found her way before she had an apprentice.

         “Before me she had her boy Thole. He’s a cousin to the Ma’am Colletta.  When Thole was a child he helped my teacher with the chores and he was her guide, but he didn’t help her with babies or healing the sick and he couldn’t read her book. She always had to hope someone from the families she visited was there to help. Then before Thole learned this he grew to have the strength of a man and his father took him back to help with their farm. So my teacher was all alone just stumbling around in her blind ways. She couldn’t even gather up all the eggs in the hen house. It was an amazing wonder for both of us that day when Master Daniel saw the priest of the pagans trying to sell me to the cooper. Master Daniel told the druid he doesn’t buy children, so I am borrowed. He made a promise to send me back when I’m fully a healer. My teacher says she’s happy I’m here and she even thanks God for that. I think we both need each other.”

         “I know that’s true, Anatase. You’re very important to her.”

         I can see the doorway from where I’m sitting and I see that Eve is listening to all of this. I’ve some questions for Eve that I wish not to have Anatase hear and I think Eve would like to talk with me also. She sends Anatase on an errand to take a basket of eggs down the hill to the new house where my granddaughter Celeste now lives with a sprouting generation of this family.

         Eve’s instruction, “Take along some mint leaves, Anatase, and tell my niece you are staying for tea.”

         “Papa, I need to tell you that the promise Daniel made for Anatase was that when she was able to read the remedies and grow the herbs and when she had gathered experience caring for people I would have to send her back to the pagan tribe. I thought she would grow up here, and I would have her with me all the years of her childhood. Then when she’s fully a woman she could decide if she wished to return. But …

(Continues tomorrow)

Post #20.10, Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve, pagan healer

         Anatase is telling me how she learned to read. “The old monk promised me he, himself would give me a reading lesson whenever he could come up here. And he was even better at reading than he was at writing. His letters are shaky.”

         My opinion, “Maybe that was just his old age. When I knew him he was very good with the inks.”

         “So then when he came he brought these pages for reading practice and also a tray of wax and a tool.” I see she has her reading and writing here in a basket with her flute and the book of remedies.

         Her story continues. “He told me wax is how they teach monastery boys to write. It takes lots of practice and wax doesn’t use up inks and edges of parchment. With this I can copy a letter over and over again until it is perfect, then press the practice away and learn another letter. The old monk used to write something on the wax then I would read it back, and he would smile and shout that I was the smartest little girl he ever taught to read.  First thing he told me the secret of the letters with sounds and added new words for me to practice using the words I knew so I could figure out more of the teacher’s book. Now I’ve learned to read everyone one of the remedies. I can just say them when she needs them.

         “The old monk said before I was here he used to come more often because he could ride horses, but when the horses got too old they went to pasture. He said then the abbot wouldn’t give an old monk a new horse. So all the days that I was here he could only come when he could ride along with someone who had a donkey cart or until Master Ezra was going to Poitiers anyway. Sometimes the Old Monk stayed here for days.”

         “Didn’t he have work to do at the monastery?”

          “He said his shaking hands made him unable to copy the scriptures anymore so he wasn’t good for anything but prayers and songs and he didn’t need the inks to pray and sing so he could keep the hours anywhere, even in heaven. He said he would die one of these days, but I didn’t know what he meant. Now I know.”

         “I know.  I miss him too. So how did your teacher find her way before you came?”

(Continues tomorrow)

Post #20.9, Thursday, May 20, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve

         Anatase is telling me how she came to be a student of Eve’s. “When I was four I saw a road marker with an arrow and letters, ‘OOS’ to be a word. Since the arrow was pointing to the river I thought the letters named the river near where I lived. Then when I saw those same letters at the top of an ordinance posted by the stile at the river crossing gate I said that name aloud as though I was reading. My mother thought I was magic.

         I’m not sure she thought that was a good thing, but she was telling others I had a gift. I figured out more of reading because I thought my mother liked it. But our village meant to be Christian so the idea of a girl baby reading just by magic was a bad omen. The Christian’s priest told my mother only boys in monasteries are supposed to be reading and the monks are supposed to keep careful watch over that so it doesn’t take them astray. My mother feared I was in danger of Christian curses and kills and she wanted to save me so she gave me to the pagans.

         “I ended up here where I was supposed to read for my teacher. But my teacher’s book of remedies has so many strange words. I needed some clues, like an arrow or picture to explain it. The parts about the herbs were easier to figure out because there were drawings. But what she needed to know most were the parts I couldn’t read. I feared she wouldn’t be able to heal people if I couldn’t read everything. I asked Master Daniel, he’s a reader, and his father is too, but they say I’m here to learn from my teacher not to take up time of the men who had work to do. And I couldn’t think of any way to figure it out myself.

         “Then came along the old monk who lived in a monastery. I begged him to take me back there just for a day, so I could see what they were teaching the boys about reading. I thought I could easily find the clue. He said everyone at Ligugé is older and they have no reading classes, but other monasteries train young boys. He told me monasteries are changing and you would need to know about all those changes too when you awoke and he was already making these pages for me to read to you.”

(Continues Tuesday, May 25)

Post #20.8, Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve,

         Anatase is reading from Nic’s pages about his first encounter with my family.

         “The old monk wrote, ‘Your daughter-in-law is gracious but she seems cautious of strangers, especially this one wearing a monk’s robe and tonsured.  She assures me that whatever else I have heard of Ezra’s family she and her children are devout and orthodox. So when faced with me, appearing to be holy man at her door she stiffens for proper clarity allowing no cloud of uncertainty whatsoever, in order to assure me she knows the creed by heart, every word of it; and she said she even knows the beg ottens and cons’…”

         I assist, “begotten and consubstantial”

         “Whatever.” Anatase continues reading, “’Colleta assures me, no matter what I may have been told by Ezra’s papa this family is Christian. And you know, Laz, my friend, she may not have any knowledge at all of the substance of God but she does know you very well, and she truly wants me to be sure to know she is not at all a heretic like you.’

         “You are reading all these words well, Anatase, keep going, I’ll bet it will get more interesting for you.”

         “Yes this is the part about the children. He writes, ‘Colleta tells me the last time you were here, little Margey was still a suckling babe, and Daniel was only a knee-high and Celeste, was just learning laundry chores. I first came up here three years later than when you were last here and Margey was a toddler, fast on her feet in those days and little Daniel was visiting your daughter Eve for reading lessons every day. Ezra thinks Daniel needs to know how to read to deal with land grabbers and tax collectors who use a farmer’s ignorance to steal away their land in these times.’

         Anatase interrupts her own reading. “It’s hard to think of Celeste and Daniel as children. And does he mean to say my teacher could read back then? And who is Margey?”

         “Maybe Nic will tell us if you read on.” 

         But now I find I myself fearing these same unknowns. In these pages before us there may be sadness. Maybe these pages shouldn’t be read by this child’s voice. 

         So I asked Anatase how she came to be living here. 

         “Well,” She begins her own story, “When I was four…”         

(Continues tomorrow)

Post #20.7, Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. The garden of Eve, pagan healer

         Everyday now, I find I’m stronger and more useful. First I was able to do normal things for myself. I could eat at the table with the others, and now in this season of the fullness of springtime nearly into summer I am able to help Anatase and Eve with chores so there is more time for Anatase to read aloud from the pages left by Nic.  Eve calls it the reading lesson when Anatase and I sit outside on a bench in the garden and Anatase unrolls the bundle of trimmed off ends of parchment on which Nic lettered his journals of these missing years.

         Anatase said she wasn’t living here yet when Nic came up the first time. With her being only eight-years-old now, I mention she wasn’t even born yet. That makes no sense to a child whose lifetime in her mind is all of known time. No wonder it’s a youthful thing to believe life beyond death is an unexplored truth; then history, even with its indelible imprint on our physical world, seems only a fabrication. Of course, believing in history does require imagining those who went before us then mustering our empathy for another’s mortality. So she dutifully reads Nic’s explanation of laying out strips of linen in the shape of a man next to the very gravestones I once heaped onto Susanna’s grave myself. Anatase drudges through the squiggles of letters word-for-word to tell how Nic created the dome of wattle and daub as the sepulcher we have all seen torn away so recently.

         Anatase much prefers reading Nic’s words about meeting my family here when they were so young all those years ago. So that is what she reads today.

         “Page 2, Your Family.” He wrote about what all these people were like in the old times when he first came here. He said, ‘Your son Ezra is a true master of the vineyard here. Every decision made – from where to plant the yellow flowers I brought, to the perfect placement among your family graves for your rem…[peach pit] – all have to be approved by him and he is really too busy most of the time to bother with this guest who I am. Mostly while I’m awaiting Ezra’s various permissions, I’m sitting at his house and being hosted by the matron of these peasants, Colletta. Yes, your daughter-in-law is gracious but she seems cautious of strangers’.” Anatase adds,  “He didn’t know about me, or Celeste’s children then. This page must be very old.”

(Continues tomorrow)