Brother Eardwine rushed down the aisle pausing only long enough to genuflect before the altar. He had to hurry, for three sleek, high-prowed vessels had been spied just as dawn began to break. It had only been the isle’s contrary tides and the prayers of the brothers that had bought him any time at all.
Father Winfrith joined him only a moment later and the two men quick deposited the silver chalice and crucifix into an old sack. Reaching under the altar the priest retrieved a small golden casket and placed it reverently into the bag.
Leaving the chapel, the pair made their way to the scriptorium where Winfrith selected a single volume and added it to the sack. A large number of clay inkwells and similar worthless vessels were then thrust into a second sack.
“I’ll take the pottery,” Winfrith said. “You take the relics to the cave and don’t return until someone comes for you.”
“Yes Father,” the young brother replied.
Eardwine then covered his tonsure with his cowl, and headed down a narrow passageway. Meanwhile, Father Winfrith threw his sack over his shoulder and set off to draw the attention of the raiders.
By late afternoon, Eardwine could smell smoke on the breeze. He sat cowering in his little refuge for two days, but no messenger ever arrived to beckon his return. It was only hunger that in the end drew him into the open, and thus, he returned to the ruins of his monastic home.
With devotion in his heart, and Saint Matthew’s tax ledger and pen at his side, Eardwine vowed to rebuild his community. But being a pragmatic youth, he decided to take his sacred treasures inland, abandoning the island forever.
No one can alter God’s will, and the Lord had surely preserved Eardwine and the relics on this occasion. But when it came to rebuilding – well – as Saint Matthew himself wrote: “‘You shall not test the Lord, your God.”
Our homophone sets this week are:
aisle – walkway
I’ll – contraction of “I will”
isle – island alter – to change
altar – raised centre of worship