Hypatia was dragged from her carriage and pulled into the Caesareum.
She was stripped naked. She was flayed with sharpened tiles and
beaten and killed. Yes. Her body was carved into pieces and then
burnt on a pyre in the Cinaron. It was a painful and cruel death,
yes, but do not bring a tree into the house.
Trees belong outside, where their roots can grow downward into the
earth, where their limbs can reach upward toward the sky, where
birds can make their nests in their branches and wearied travelers
can rest beneath the shade of their leaves. And though it was a
party of Nitrian monks, good Christians, who sharpened their ostrakois
against rocks and waited for Hypatia's carriage to pass, we cannot
help but view this event with some concern. Is it too much to assume
that there was screaming, angry death cries and doleful wails? Is
it too much to ask that you not bring a tree into the house?
You have now tracked mulch across
the living room floor twice this week, and there is an ultimate
reality beyond our human comprehension, one which must be sought
despite our impotence to realize its consequence. And there is a
hierarchy of realities beneath our own, one corresponding to every
thought the human mind can conceive. Is this so pagan a philosophy
that one should be labeled a witch? A Satanic magician?
I know. I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking that Hypatia would don her philosopher's robe
and walk the streets of Alexandria, interpreting the lessons of
Plato and Aristotle for the citizens. And now there is a squirrel
scurrying across the top of the bookshelf. We will not be able to
get it down without the use of some very long stick, like, perhaps,
a broom handle, like, perhaps, Hypatia beguiling Orestes, the prefect
of Alexandria, through her magic and turning him against the Nitrians
and against the teachings of Christ so that he would no longer take
Holy Communion. How she forced him, through demonic possession,
to publicly subjugate Hierax for his knowledge of the holy doctrine.
How the branches of this tree stretch into the dining room and the
study and scrape the newly painted pantries in the kitchen.
The house is no place for a tree.
Look. I've written it down and posted it on the refrigerator where
you can see it every morning, so you won't forget. And John, Bishop
of Nikiu, you have written the history of this incident in ink with
the seal of the church, so it is official in the eyes of God.