Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19 - Dunstan, Blacksmith, Archbishop of Canterbury, Light to England



Dunstan was a monk--he hadn't been one very long but he did have a notable pedigree since his uncle was the Archbishop of Canterbury. Once upon a time had been popular in a king's court but his popularity had threatened others among the king's servants who began to despise him. So, they lied and accused Dunstan of witchcraft and black magic. Though it was a lie, sometimes lies have a way of being believed even when they're unbelievable and so it was enough for Dunstan to be sent away from the court by the king and to be beaten severely by his enemies. In his exile he became a monk and hermit. In his solitude he began once again to practice the art of the forge that he had learned as a youth. In fact, one day Dunstan was in his shop and working on a fine metal chalice. The chalice was to be used by some Christians to hold the Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. So, he took his work very seriously and endeavored to apply the full breadth of his skill to its completion. While he worked though he heard a soft pitter-patter of feet as a young woman approached his forge.

Actually, he smelled her before she ever entered the room as the breeze that preceded her carried her scent to him on a wave. It was a refreshing and enticing thing and so he looked up to ask her how he could help her and the words caught in his throat. She was gorgeous and he found he could not look away.The way she moved entranced him and reminded him of the many days he had spent in indecision about a potential vow of celibacy--he had remained unconvinced for quite some time until finally he fell under a conviction that God was calling him to the eremitic, monastic life. She leaned forward in an alluring way and it was only then that he realized how provocatively she was dressed. It wasn't that she was scantily clad or garishly risque by any means--that would be far too obvious--but as he looked upon her he noticed several things about her that seemed to call softly to his lust. It was in the little things like the turn of the collar of her dress, the gentle wave of her long, chestnut hair, the purse of her lips as she considered some clever thing to say to Dunstan, and the apparent honesty in her eyes. By Dunstan's estimation she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and he was enchanted as she coyly conversed with him. Each pose and stance she struck seemed effortless and without forethought but maddeningly attractive and innocently unaware. There seemed to be so much right about her.

But there was something about the way she flirted with him that made him hesitate. He was eager to join with her in "harmless fun" but became aware that there was something else at work. Though the illusion of the gorgeous woman had been fundamentally persuasive at first its sincerity faded as his lust cooled. Those soft and genuine looks began quietly to whisper sex and not sincerity. The way she turned her body to walk to another point in the shop revealed some desire in her to be lusted after. With each passing second, Dunstan became more and more aware that she knew exactly what she was doing and that there was poison beneath the sweetness. He realized with startling clarity that only that which was evil would dare masquerade as the beautiful and in this realization he began to see all the things his lust had blinded him to. He picked up the tongs that had so recently held the chalice being set aside for God's use and turned to the woman as she twirled her skirt--and perhaps gave too much of her true nature away. With stunning speed he reached out and grabbed her nose with the tongs knowing that she was no woman and only a dark spirit sent to bewitch and undo him. The story goes that the woman begged and pleaded with him at first but could not convince him that she was not the devil himself. Under the pressure, the facade began to slip and Dunstan's captive--perhaps the devil himself--began to cry out in pain and beg to be released. Finally, Dunstan let him go and the poor thing ran as fast as its legs would carry it with the tattered rags that had masqueraded as a comely dress flowing behind it.Recognizing the temptation for what it was, Dunstan knew that even the sweetest of poisons was still deadly.

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