I dug up this old short story thing I wrote five years ago (eep!) and decided to share it with you. It also is mightily pompous, because that’s how I wrote back then, and also because I was deliberately channeling it for the style of the story. My old pompousness really makes me smile and shake my head (so you can too, feel free).
Note: Due to an unfortunate word choice, I remarked that “the bowl was filled with wonder”… and then a little later that “the horn was silent”. When working with objects, I failed to choose words that didn’t fit with both aspects of their identity. *face palm* So I exploited it, editing “the jar laughed good-naturedly” to be “the jar cracked up in good-natured laughter”. Because I’m weird like that.
In a potter’s shop in the village of Kadar, three lumps of clay sat on a shelf, waiting for the Maker to turn them into something new and useful. The first lump was monologuing.
“You see, my friends, I come from Egypt, and my makeup is the finest. Gold itself could envy me, and rightly so, for it is but gold, while I, yes, I am made of the richest, the highest dirt to be found in all the world from one end to the other. Ah!” Here it sighed. “Alas, how coarse and lowly a word dirt is to use, but I know no better in this language to say it aright.”
At last the second lump broke in. “Only from the Nile thou art sprung, where camel and sheep alike drink their fill and sully with their feet quality such as thou hast boasted. But have I not sprung from the land of Persia, greatest in the world? Where once on a time a king’s palace stood, now rich clay is to be found, and such am I. Dust of Egypt!” it snorted. “Where cattle trod thy vile roots, royal footsteps treaded mine. What is the honor of supporting a shepherd’s crook to holding up a king upon his royal staff? Cease thy empty boasts and admit the humble place reserved for thee!”
With this the Persian ended, leaving an uncomfortable silence, broken only by a polite cough from the Egyptian clay. Then it spoke to the desert clay, making no attempt to hide its derisive scorn.
“And what lineage can you claim, my fair desert rose?”
Dragged thus reluctantly into speech, the desert clay answered, “Beneath the blazing sun in the east, in the arid places where few dare traverse and none linger wantonly, I have lived long, sprung from whence I do not remember. Ruddied by overbrilliant sunlight and roughened by the windblown sand, neither of you, nor others like you, nor even myself could claim any beauty or attraction in me. My beginnings are poor, my roots, lowly, yet this much is my joy and glory: that our Maker, Who will presently form us into what we are to be, Himself chose me for some purpose of His, though I on my own had no claim to value. And even if He but forms me into a jar to fetch water for Him, I will do it gladly. What less can I do in gratitude but give everything I am to His service?”
There was a moment of silence, and then both the Persian and the Egyptian roared with laughter.
“If thou speakest of worth, what of mine?” the former asked, controlling its laughter with difficulty. “Fair, rich and strong I am, unrivaled! Pliable upon the wheel, yet hard as diamonds when baked. Even haughty Egypt here can boast of higher lineage than thou! As for myself, it is no wonder that I should be chosen for potter’s work, even the highest.”
The Egyptian interrupted, determined to do its own boasting. “None can ask for a better lineage than to be of the Nile, and as for me, I would wonder not did I find myself in a king’s palace in the end. Though I don’t blame you for marveling at your being chosen,” the Egyptian added scathingly.
“Perhaps,” the desert clay conceded humbly. “But, beginnings and lineage aside, are we not all in the end nothing more than dirt? Are we not, though different, still equal? Aren’t we just dross, spurred and trampled by the heels of men, despised and rejected by those who see what we truly are? Our Maker is not deceived – of that I am assured – and He knows just what each of us are made of. Yet He selected us without any warrant on our part, and will form us into something far better and useful, and those who would have once cursed us will bless our usefulness and praise the skill of our Maker. High destinies for lowly beginnings like ours, and to bring honor to our Maker the highest of all. That, my friends, is the end I have been waiting for in such joyous anticipation.”
The desert clay concluded, and just at that moment the door opened. The three lumps of clay watched eagerly as the Maker entered to see which of them He would mold first. He passed over the Egyptian clay, as the Persian noted smugly, but before it could plume itself on its triumph, it too was passed over, and the Maker’s work-worn hands lifted the desert clay from the shelf. Taking it to the wheel, He began working it gently and with the greatest care, and gradually beneath His skilled fingers a round and elegant bowl took shape. The clay, spinning around and around on the potter’s wheel like a dog chasing its tail, couldn’t help wondering what it was to be as it submitted to the Maker’s every touch.
When at last it was baked, cooled and ready, the Maker took it up and smiled. “You have served me well and truly, and no King could ask for better. Therefore, I will take you to my Father, and you will live in His house forever.”
The Persian and Egyptian clays watched in speechless astonishment as the Maker wrapped it carefully to protect it on the journey and left the shop. There was the sound of hooves that quickly died away, and the remaining two clays were left to ponder the meaning of what had taken place, and a hush fell on the village of Kadar.
The desert clay, which was now a smooth and perfect bowl, stood in a wide alcove with many other jars, basins, and things made of clay. Curiosity overcame its shyness, and it spoke to a jar standing near.
“Where exactly are we?”
The jar cracked up in good-natured laughter. “In the royal house of the King. But you must be joking, for the King’s Son just brought you; I saw Him myself.”
The bowl was filled with wonder and asked, “Then is He the King’s Son?”
“Oh, yes,” the jar answered. “Even before I came here, it was rumored that the potter of Kadar was the Son of the King, but it wasn’t until I got here that the rumors – and my belief – were confirmed with surety. Then is that belief no longer circulated?”
“No,” the bowl answered softly. “I trusted the Maker to do with me as He pleased, but I never thought…”
“I know,” the jar said understandingly. “It’s only when we get here that we understand everything.”
– Later –
Time had little meaning in the house of the King, so while they knew it passed, neither the bowl nor the jar could tell how long it was before they were joined by a horn, newly come from the wheel of the potter in Kadar.
The bowl was the first to speak. “We have met before, my friend.”
“Indeed! For verily I once was the arrogant clay of Persia that stood beside thee on the shelf of the Maker, and it is to thee and thy enlightening words, as well as to He Who made us, that I owe my presence here. For I have repented my haughty words, and am now far better than ever I was before, for now I am a horn of the greatest of Kings.”
“Yes,” agreed the bowl. “Here, what we once were has no bearing on what we are. But what became of the Egyptian clay?”
The horn was silent for a while. “I tried to help it see what we had too, but Egypt would not heed, but said I had become as foolish as thou wert.”
“Well,” the bowl said at last, “we have done all we can and planted the seed. We have but to wait and see if it grows…”
“And trust the Maker,” they said together.
“Thou and I may be joined by Egypt yet,” the horn added.
Have a great, clayful weekend!