Dynwen – Wales’s Saint of Love (Part 2)
Continued from yesterday…
The truth is that the King, my father, did not meet with us. He was too busy. He simply instructed my mother to inform me that my marriage was arranged with another and had been for some time. It did not occur to him that I might disobey. It did not concern him to speak with me in person.
Maelon trembled by my side, white hot with anguish as the women closed him out. The terror of what he might do was all I could think. I took to my heels and I ran.
At first, some made to come after me, but they were ordered to leave me be. My mother had seen too many maidens in their petty rebellions to know there was nowhere to run and that I would, before sunset, return, if not ready to do my duty, at least resigned to my fate.
I went to the woods. Even in my distress I know not to go too far. The boars can be more than a nuisance to a lone girl without stick or spear.
I went to our tree, the tree whose branches had sheltered us and dappled our young bodies in summer with a light so soft and shifting I can recall it even now. I lay down on the moss and curled myself achingly small between the great roots and cried the broken shards of heart out of my sobbing frame.
My greatest fear at that time was that Maelon would be rash, that he would raise his hand to my father and be cut down. In my innocent knowing, I was certain that we would be together. How could a love such as ours end in parting? It was impossible to consider that despite what we had been told, a marriage with some other could ever take place. As long as we lived, Maelon and I, we would find a way.
When the angel appeared, I was surprised. Of course, I was. In those far away days, men and angels were closer than they are now and people often talked of encounters with them at times of great joy or terrible torment, but I had not met an angel before.
He was the brightest being I have ever seen, and seeing is too simple a word to describe the radiance that fell about me. A silence stilled the insane world and it disappeared, so that we stood together in a place of such magnificence my heart was instantly healed.
When the angel held out the potion of forgetting to me, I had only one request, to save Maelon from his own temper, from his own grief. I drank the potion knowing that he would be safe.
Later, upon waking, I could not at first recall why I was here huddled in the roots of a tree. Retracing my steps I took the path homeward and there in the courtyard encountered the other miracle.
What a furore met me. It was coming on evening and the sky was streaked with pale pinks , soon to turn to blood reds, but the members of the household were captivated by something they had never seen before. My former love had been turned to a statue of ice, his beauty captured here for all to see for as long as it might take him to thaw and then he would be returned to the good earth as crystal-clear water.
I observed as though seeing a stranger. He who had been the most beautiful of all beings could not now compare with the astonishing loveliness of my angel, but I could not bear that he should suffer.
No one was much interested in me. I moved among them and beyond them and took myself to my chamber.
What should I do?
From my window I saw my ice lover and knew I was no longer his love. The angels in his magnificence had shown me true beauty and the truest love and I knew that I could never return to my former longings.
On my knees before the image of the Christ in all his suffering, I opened my heart to God and he heard me .
What followed I would have preferred to keep to myself., but so much has been said of three wishes and the striking of bargains that I must now put the record straight.
I begged that Maelon might be restored to life. I knew I no longer loved him as I had done. How could I when the angel filled every part of me with his radiant loveliness?
I asked that all true lovers be given God’s good grace and I asked that I be released from earthly expectations laid upon me by my father. I would not marry, being now heart-filled with angelic love that would sustain me all my future days.
There was a little resistance from my father. He would have preferred less fuss and bother but a saintly daughter is a prize too, of a kind. He invested in his soul by presenting my dowry to a northern convent so he might ever after boast of my holiness but never have to face my peculiar defiance in person. The man he had chosen to be my husband was mollified with another sister.
We lived ever after, myself and my beautiful angel, lodged in my open heart on lovely Llanddwyn Island.
Maelon? He married a cow girl, who they say looks a little like me, and she bore him seven children.