The sun went down at 7:01pm, and the moon is full. When I stepped outside this morning, I saw my breath—the first frost of the season. Next month C. and I will drive into the desert to find a new place to live. In the meantime, I am savoring the heavier skies and reds and yellows. The burning leaves and earlier nights. Still working my way through The Bright Ages, Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry’s retelling of medieval European history.

There’s a story from the eleventh century about a French baron who would kidnap the locals and hold them in his castle for ransom. A soldier named Gebert rescued them, but they were soon recaptured and tortured. The baron punished Gebert by removing his eyes from their sockets.

“Gebert despaired of his fate . . . and decided to starve himself to death. But on the eighth day, he had a vision. A ten-year-old girl appeared to him, clothed in gold, suffused with light, and beautiful beyond description. She regarded him closely, then stuck her hands into his sockets and seemed to reimplant his eyes. Gebert awoke with a start to thank the girl, but no one was there. His vision began to return slowly.”

This was one of the many miracles ascribed to Saint Foy, a third-century girl who was burned alive after refusing to sacrifice an animal to Roman gods. Gabriele and Perry connect this story to a broader uptick in miraculous saints throughout the eleventh century, a time of destabilized power centers and decaying traditions that divided Western Europe “into fragmenting segments fraught with low-grade but constant strife.” For many, the solution was to invent new gods and new miracles.

Yesterday in twenty-first-century America, I idled behind a jeep with an InfoWars license plate. We’ve been creating fucked up religions lately to deal with uncertainty, casting each other as heretics and heathens. Hopefully, one day we will invent kinder gods and new miracles. Or at least better stories.