I’m delighted to have Luke with me today. He is one of the characters from Brett Armstrong’s Destitutio Quod Remissio and might just be my favorite. The illustrations here were drawn by Brett. Aren’t they great?
atr: How old are you?
Luke: I’m twelve years old, soon I’ll be thirteen. Though my mother thinks I’m only half that old.
atr: Mothers tend to always think that about their children. Will you tell us a little about your family
Luke: My father, Benjamin, is the leader of a church that meets in secret. I guess it’s okay to tell you that since you believe too. He’s an architect by trade and has been teaching me as much of it as he can. I don’t see him very often though, because he’s so busy. There are so many people afraid and in hiding. He can’t bear to see them in want. Mother says he’s very brave and someday we may have to be brave as well.
My mother’s name is Olivia. She is an excellent cook! Everyone loves her garlic focaccia. I think people love her too. It’s hard to explain, but she has a kindness about her. Other people see it and comment. I suppose my little sister Katri benefits most from it though. She helps mother around the house and plays a lot. She also enjoys watching the birds that land in in the peristylum.
atr: Your family sounds wonderful! You have a brother too, don’t you?
Luke: Yeah, an older one. Jacob. He was great—is great. In summer, he used to take me out of the city to run in the countryside and sleep under the stars. A couple times father joined us. But Jacob’s not with us anymore.
atr: I’m sorry for your loss, but so thankful you can have confidence you will meet him again in heaven.
What does a typical day look like to you?
Luke: Most of the time it’s not very interesting. I attend school from sunrise till late in the evening. At school I’ve finished grammaticus and moved on to rhetor early. It is doubtful I will get to finish, even if I do continue to excel. But I have no interest in becoming a lawyer or politician. When we get home, we help mother with some chores around the house for a bit. Before dinner, my “tutor” works with me in mousike. That is, my mother works with me. Our school is very traditionalist, so mousike, more specifically its visual arts, doesn’t get much attention. Since the school identified my talent early on, my mother teaches me. We can’t afford a true tutor, but Mother is gifted. Most people don’t realize she is and she doesn’t boast.
While I work on my art, Katri plays with her dolls. We eat dinner together and then Mother and Father read to us from a few scrolls they have. They are copies of the Septuagint and the Gospel of Luke. Father was given the latter by Senator Servius when he found out about me.
atr: It sounds like you keep very busy with learning!
What is your favorite food?
Luke: Mother probably wishes I would name something else, but my absolute favorite is plakountos. The Romans call it placenta. It’s made from layers of dough with cheese, honey, and bay leaves in between. After baking it’s covered in honey. My father made it once or twice. Living in Corinth, he learned how to make it far better than the Romans here do. I hope father makes it for me on my next birthday, it would be the first time Katri gets to try it! Though that depends on how things turn out. With the edicts and the persecutions…
atr: That sounds amazing!
Do you have a hidden talent?
Luke: I don’t know if it can be called hidden, since art is by nature visual and shared. But it is certainly something I’m only able to pursue in private at home. It’s not strictly needed to follow in my father’s trade and isn’t common for those of our heritage, but Father believes as the Greeks do, that sometimes beauty in and of itself is worthwhile. “Art’s beauty reflects God’s creative power and our yearning for something beyond the common world.” He tells me that all the time.
atr: How lovely that you have that talent! I enjoy art.
What is the best gift you could receive?
Luke: I guess it just depends. Is it something like a treat or more? You know something miraculous? Because what I want most is for mother to be able to smile again. Really smile. She hasn’t since Jacob was taken and I don’t think she will again.
atr: I love your kind heart, Luke. Keep praying for her. The Lord can give joy even in grief.
What is your greatest weakness?
Luke: Hm, apparently I’m a bit impulsive and quick to judge. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I think it’s more like I don’t wait to be told what the right thing is, I find out for myself. So, I don’t know if that is really a weakness at all.
atr: Hmm. I think I may recall reading something about that in DQR. . .
Has that ever gotten you into trouble?
Luke: Maybe, a couple times.
atr: What are you afraid of?
Luke: Losing my mom and Katri and dad like I lost Jacob. These Romans, they just don’t stop. They hate us and we’ve not done anything to them. It’s not like the Lord taught us to hate them or to try to tear down their cities or something. But they act like we’re monsters, like it’s our fault things aren’t like they used to be.
atr: I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with that. But you make me think of the word in the first letter from Peter
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy
I Peter 3:14-15
What is your greatest regret?
Luke: That I didn’t go with Jacob the day he was taken. At least then he wouldn’t have been alone. And I wouldn’t have to see my mom and dad walking like ghosts through our home. They try to go on like they don’t really know what happened. As if it doesn’t hurt them. But it does and they can’t hide it. I hate seeing that and I hate knowing Jacob has to be out there somewhere alone. He’s brave and strong, but no one should be alone like that, right?
Thank you for joining us here today, Luke, and thank you for these wonderful pictures you shared with us.
Readers, read more about Destitutio Quod Remissio, read a preview, see Brett’s Pinterest board.