Medievalists get jaded. Economic meltdowns? Long-distance relationships? Shark attacks? It’s all been done, and we can show you a text, some chunk of rock, or a saint’s life that said the same thing centuries ago. Studying history is liberating; it lets you be fascinated by the world around you but comforted by the fact that so little in life turns out to be truly new.
So when an email this weekend shocked me, I fell back on medieval precedent—but I found it wanting, because if the modern world throws novelty at you, and if a loved one is involved, then nothing can brace you for strange and miraculous news:
“Your niece has learned how to levitate.”