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What the stones don't say


Sometime in your life you have probably met someone who doesn't really know you or your history, can't see the good you've done and without much evidence has written you off as a bad egg. Your protests don't matter. Your contributions are flatly ignored.

Imagine that a mother ship from a more advanced civilization landed in the great forests and swamps of Europe fifteen hundred years ago. The explorers on board decided to be helpful. They established communities where they

Cut down the forests, drained swamps, invented a plough strong enough to carve the heavy soil, planted crops, improved seed, raised and improved breeds of domestic animals and raised botanicals to treat the ill.

Nursed the ill, including plague victims, at the risk of their lives, set bones and established the first hospitals.

Taught young children to read and preserved and copied books.

Carried no weapons and established sanctuaries where no weapons were ever to be drawn or used.

Established the first hotels - clean, safe and inexpensive - for travellers across Europe.

Cared for those in need and provided sanctuaries for women.

Created centres for community celebrations.

Sponsored the experimental work of scientists and supported the great universities. (The 12th - 13th century British Science Timeline is interesting in this regard.)

Attempted to teach a philosophy of human dignity, responsibility and love.

Worked to establish a system of justice that would protect the innocent.

Centuries later, after many of these things had been achieved, the mother ship flew away, and all memory of her vanished. Some, greedy for wealth, destroyed the stone sanctuaries, took their land and spread stories that the men and women who had built them were selfish, superstitious and corrupt. Others denied that the builders had made any contributions. Many others simply never knew. They were taught about mistakes and vices, but never about the builders' virtues.

As you've guessed, monks and nuns and lay Christians made these contributions. The stones cannot speak of them.

The Anchoress has more.

Comments (1)

A beautifully written post, Cat, without bathos or recrimination.

However, without belaboring the point, I suggest that the mother ship hasn't left; she truly is still here. Or, more precisely, here.

And one fellow whom I admire fondly says, monks still point to the heart of eternal realities.

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