I am writing today with the sad news that Dunstan, the Archbishop of Catterbury, has been missing since sometime Monday. We have walked the nature trail numerous times, checked all around the building, and even looked in all the rooms inside. I have called and called and called for him with no response. I have posted on the neighborhood Next Door page, and Joseph Henry and I have plastered Garmon Road with flyers. So far we have heard nothing.
Dunstan first appeared at church five years ago as a feral stray. We’d catch occasional glimpses of him, but he would run if anyone even looked his way. Then he started hanging around more and looking thinner, so I began feeding him. I started with a bowl on the sidewalk leading to the office door, and gradually moved it closer, until he was coming to the bottom step, and finally the top step. Then I started standing at the door (inside) and watching him eat. Gradually he quit running at the sight of me.
Then I started cracking the door open, a little bit more every day. Finally, he let me pet him while he was eating. Then I moved the bowl inside and kept the door propped open. He came in, but was alert at all times, ready to bolt if anything startled him. He started letting me pet him more and pick him up,. You know the rest. The vestry put a cat door in my office, and he pretty much moved in. We gave him the job of official greeter, which he performs faithfully every Sunday, hanging around the parking lot, accepting the pets and love which are given to him.
I have had cats all my life. I’ve loved every one of them. But Dunstan is in a different class. I never dreamed when I began feeding him that he would become such a “people” cat. The cat who ran whenever someone looked his way was transformed into a cat who loved nothing more than being petted and being with people.
He also developed a deep bond with me. He spends a good bit of time outside, patrolling the property (making sure no other cats set foot here), but he also spends many hours in my office, During the pandemic the bond became even closer. The building was closed, but I came in every to work and to feed him. For almost 13 months it was just the two of us together every day. He was almost always by mhy side. He attends all Zoom meetings, and always helps with sermon preparation, mainly by sitting on any paper or book I’m trying to read. When he wants me to pet him he will not leave me alone until I stop and put my arms in a circle on my desk. He then steps in and curls up in the circle, purring contentedly.
Over the past five years Dunstan has become a beloved mascot for the whole congregation. We’ve had people who came to St. Dunstan’s for the first time because they saw him on the website. He loves this place, and is well-loved in return.
There are so many reasons to be depressed about what is going on in our country, and to despair about the future. Our pets don’t care about any of that. They love us and bring us joy and laughter in times when those things are in short supply.
We are heartsick by Dunstan’s disappearance, and trying to hold on to hope that he may return. My office is very empty without him. Please say a prayer for him.