Guinevere giggled as she spotted a bit of grass in John’s hair. He smiled, gave her a quizzical look then dropped his roll into the soup to soften.
They had been married for three years and just now her belly confirmed that the two would soon be - more. John was giddy with the thought. Gwinnie’s zeal for life along with all it brought caused John to experience feelings that overwhelmed him. He shoved his food to the side and brought his lips to Gwinnie’s with a passion he was sure she understood. She laughed as she wrapped her arms around him, he returned her embrace.
A swift sure rap on the door caused John a pained expression. Gwinnie simply smiled brightly and plucked the bit of grass from John’s hair and quickly kissed his forehead.
“Open in the name of Lord Marduke!” a voice commanded from without.
“Yes, yes - coming,” John said, disappointment etching his features.
The hinges squealed a protest as John spied men sent by the seigneur, “Is the one named Guinevere here?”
“I am,” Gwinnie said as she walked into view. John looked at her protectively then at the lackeys sent by the local lord.
“The Lady has use of Guinevere in festivity plans for the new year,” the one called Richard said in a way that dared John to defy him.
“As you wish,” Gwinnie said pleasantly, “I will come today.”
John was never pleased when Gwinnie was called to the manor. Hadn’t he worked hard to purchase this land? Hadn’t the crops been harvested by the sweat of his very brow? Yet, he was required to give a portion of the crops to Lord Marduke. He was further subjected to taxes and various labor requirements that were redeemed at the whim of Marduke. This was one of those moments when his wife was called upon to demonstrate skills that would surely be used to benefit the Lord and Lady. Only he would know that is was the skill of his Gwinnie that would cause the women to fawn and the men to rally to the boards, their heavy jowls quivering with the tasty delights she‘d created. Ah, but he was the one she would come home to and he would gladly enjoy the fruit of her hands each day of their lives together.
It was three days before Guinevere arrived back at the cottage, but rather than the tired visage he had expected, her face was alive with excitement.
“John, I have had the most lovely time.”
“I overheard the priest talking to Lord Marduke.”
“You weren’t caught, were you?”
“I was invited to serve and then stay and hear the story, John.”
“Lord Marduke invited you?”
“Actually the priest invited me to stay. Oh John, I heard the story of the blessed Jesu and the reason for Annunciation Day.”
“The first day of the new year?”
“Indeed, this is the day we remember when Mary was told she would become mother to the Son of God, the blessed Jesu.”
“Yes, we have heard the story before, Gwinnie.”
“Perhaps, but Mary not only became the mother of Jesu, she watched Him die and then saw Him alive again on day three.”
“Jesu was God’s Son born of Mary, blessed among women. He died and rose to redeem us.”
“Pay the price for our freedom.”
“Yes,” Gwinnie giggled, “freedom from the sins we commit against His Father - God. The best news is that God does not see us as slave or free, He sent Jesu for all of us and He welcomes all of us in the same way.”
“I am, John. We do not have to be slaves - inside. The God that made us finds us priceless and showed it by making His Son one of us - a peasant. The priest told me that we must simply believe.”
* * * * *
Peasants were forced to endure servitude to local lords in medieval England. They were not allowed to worship in the churches meant for the elite of society, little able to gain an education and less likely to find someone willing to teach them to read or write.
To find such truth was cause for great joy in the revelation of the unknown and often resulted in peasant folk songs that paid homage to God even when the details weren’t entirely accurate.
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