The white elephantís trunk was green, with a little shiny brass latch that didnít work very well.
Itís kind of grainy, you know how memories are that you tuck away and pull out only occasionally. Itís stiff with bent corners and itís framed in that old cream colored border of all the pictures taken in the 1970ís. The trunk was green though, and the little white elephant carried it with as much dignity as he could muster.
Today he had sat in a lonely corner of the room as the decision makers decided their decisions. The room was smoky and crowded, the words were heated and tossed out onto the table like links of an old heavy chain, bargaining, wheeling and dealing, with side glances and loud sighs.
The other elephants could be worked, could add value to the circus, but not the little white elephant with the green trunk. He was too small, and he needed too much care. Oh, he was just too much trouble. The votes were cast, the decisions were made and the little white elephant went home with the newest circus. He knew they had gotten him because nobody else wanted him, but he held his head up anyway, and closed his eyes as he walked out the door of the little smoky room. They shook their heads and offered mumbled apologies to the newest circus. They whistled with their hands behind their backs and looked away when the little white elephant walked by with his green trunk. They shuffled their feet and pretended he had already left. He waved good-bye to the other elephants and went on his way, the little white elephant with the green trunk, with a little shiny brass latch that didnít work very well.
The new circus had a different name than the old one. So he carried a little flag with the new name on it, he wouldnít be going by the old name anymore, but everyone knew who he was. You see even though a white elephant was a valuable possession, it was a sacred burden with no practical use that couldnít be abandoned or neglected. The new circus found out that you never gave a white elephant to a friend. You sent them as a trick to your enemies hoping they would be ruined financially. Oh, that little white elephant, he was so much trouble.
The other elephants shook their heads and mumbled apologies as they walked away when the little white elephant came around with his green trunk and his little flag with his new name on it. What could he do? How could he make them see that he was valuable too? He shook his head and mumbled apologies to himself as he walked away from the mirror and into the night. He didnít take his green trunk with him this time, the one with the shiny brass latch that didnít work very well, and he left his tattered little flag with the not-so-new-anymore circus.
He was on his own now, and he tried to be tough, swaggering around with the hyenas, the jackals and the other creatures of the night. He threw himself into the mud pits, trying to cover himself with muck and mire, trying to cover up who he was. He pretended to be accepted, but he was afraid of the shadows and he missed his little green trunk with the shiny brass latch that didnít work very well. He stumbled along from mud hole to mud hole, until he fell into one he couldnít get out of. The jackals and the hyenas shook their heads and mumbled apologies as they walked away leaving him to his fate. The lion roared in the night, coming close, wild and cunning, sly and skulking. And the dirty little white elephant closed his eyes and yelled at the darkness, the words were heated and tossed out into the night like links of an old heavy chain, bargaining, wheeling and dealing, with side glances and loud sighs.
Morning found him there, broken and helpless, tired and lonely, covered in shame and uncovered by the sun, out in the open at last. The lion had waited until the morning to make an open show of the end of the dirty little white elephant. There at the edge of the mud hole he stopped, whistling with his hands behind his back and looking away as he walked by, shuffling his feet and pretending the dirty little white elephant had already disappeared. He shook his head and mumbled apologies as he walked away.
Someone touched the dirty little white elephant and whispered soothing words into his ear. Strong arms wrapped around him, pulling, struggling, fighting against the muck and the mire. The dirty little white elephant fought against the strong arms, rejecting the soothing words, digging deeper into the mud, and the dirty little white elephant closed his eyes and yelled at the Strong Man, the words were heated and tossed out into the daylight like links of an old heavy chain, bargaining, wheeling and dealing, with side glances and loud sighs.
The Strong Man pushed the dirty little white elephant out of the mud hole and with tears in his eyes he wrapped his strong arms around the dirty little white elephant. The dirty little white elephant shook his head and mumbled apologies there at the edge of the mud hole. He closed his eyes and yelled at the Strong Man, the words were hateful and hurled at the Strong Man like old heavy spears, accusing, spiteful and hurtful, with side glances and loud sighs, but the Strong Man just held him and whispered soothing words into his ear until the exhausted dirty little white elephant became still.
The Strong Man washed the dirty little white elephant with his nail scarred hands. The Strong Man had been looking for him and had paid a high price to purchase him from the not-so-new-anymore circus. He had gone everywhere the little white elephant had been and paid for the damages he had caused. It was a terrible price to pay, but He paid it in full. The clean little white elephant stuck his neck out, waiting for the links of the old heavy chain his new Master was sure to wrap around it. He closed his eyes and mumbled apologies as he waited.
His new Master laughed and lifted the clean little white elephantís head as He said, ďArmando, youíre free.Ē
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
A note from the author:
This story is much more metaphoric than I usually write. I hope youíll indulge me, because itís not as painful to write like this.
Any time that I go into a hobby store or a luggage department I can usually be found in the aisle with the trunks. I was trying to figure out where my fascination with trunks, especially old ones, came from when this old faded memory came to mind. I was sitting on a trunk full of all of my possessions the night that my family was split up. My mother was dead and my dad was being sent to prison so my siblings and I were being adopted by other families. I remember the tremendous weight of the words that I interpreted to mean that I wasnít wanted because I offered no value to any of the families that could take me. I was just a burden because I was too young and was in my mind given to the family with the least seniority. That profoundly affected my self-worth as a child and young person until Jesus Christ finally caught up with me and set me free to be His burden, never to be neglected or abandoned, to be Holy and sacred in His eyes. The Strong Man rescued me and He spoke my name.