“Ho there! Good Abbot!” The knight thumped on the monastery door. The night closed in rapidly around him and his breath blew fog-like on the chill air. He had not long to wait before a humble monk opened the door and bowed respectfully to his visitor. “Greetings, friend,” the knight nodded wearily. “I am lately returned from the wars and I seek a night’s respite for me and my men.”
“I bid thee welcome in the name of our Lord, Sir Knight,” the monk allowed the band of foot-sore soldiers to pass.
They were shown where they might refresh themselves while the monk went in search of the abbot just come from Vespers. Soon enough they were seated at table and given a hearty meal to sate their growling stomachs.
“Doest thou have far to travel, Sir?” A monk sat down beside the knight and proceeded to dip bread into his pottage.
“Many leagues yet afore I see my beloved home.”
“And the wars? How didst thou fare?”
The knight set down his tankard and grinned. “Aye, but I have news to tell.”
“Say on then, Sir. I would fain put it to ink.”
“A scribe, are ye?”
“That I am. And there is none better occupation.”
The knight offered a scornful laugh. “How so? Thou see not the world as I, nor the glory of battle.”
The scribe chuckled. “Aye, but I copy the Holy Scriptures. Such knowledge, such wisdom and beauty thou mayest never read.”
“What care I for that, when I see God’s creation before me as I ride? Can words compare with the feel of God’s strength in my arm as I slay the infidel?”
“Aye, but the Scriptures are like a sword themselves, dividing soul and spirit, forging change in the very heart of a man. Words are a powerful weapon, my friend.”
The knight remained doubtful.
“Very well,” the scribe sighed in seeming resignation. “Tell me how many men thou hast killed. Tell me of thy fiercest battle.”
Thus, the knight told his tale to the scribe in colourful detail. He told how without reck or rein he forged into the battle lines and slew fifty men without injury to himself, and then escaped in no less than an artful manner.
The scribe listened carefully and when the story was told, he smiled with a twinkle in his eye. He rose from the board and inclined his head to the knight. “An heroic tale, I admit. I would hear more of thy victories, yet the hour grows late. Come and see me on the morrow, good knight. I shall have something for thee.”
The following morning, as petitioned, the knight sought his monkish friend, who appeared as though he had not slept. “I give thee good morrow, Scribe.” He slapped him on the shoulder.
In spite of his yawning mouth, the monk grinned his greeting. “May God bless thy day, Sir.”
“Well, then,” the impatient warrior said, “what is it thou hast for me?”
The scribe reached inside his robe and pulled out a scroll of parchment. “Read this, my friend.”
With a suspicious eye, the knight opened the scroll and read the contents with a frown. As his eyes scanned the words, they widened, narrowed and widened again, until he finally looked up at the scribe in astonishment.
“Why, this is the very tale I accounted to thee yester-eve.”
“Aye.” The scribe nodded.
“And yet, thou hast written that I defeated an hundred men single-handed, and made it sound truthful at that.”
“Aye,” the scribe said again and laughed. “And who wouldst doubt what is writ in ink? Now doest thou see why there is none better occupation than a scribe? I can make the impossible seem possible. I can inspire greatness in men. In truth, I can do more with thy sword, through my quill, than thou canst do in living. And the Holy Scripture is even greater than aught I can scratch on a parchment.”
The knight stared at him for a moment and then bellowed in laughter. “I grant thee the victory, my friend. I hear thy charge.” He bowed good-humouredly. “Thy quill is mightier than my sword.”
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 [NIV]
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