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TITLE: The Glassblower
By dee smith
10/30/11
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This is written for preteens, although I think adults will enjoy the story as well.
The Glass Blower
Jesse was a simple man, a glass blower by trade who lived alone in a remote cabin in a hollow on the mountains. He had unusual weather in this hollow. It seemed no matter what season it was, the sun was always shining. This was very good as Jesse had many windows in his cabin and every window had several shelves. He would set his works of art on the shelves and let the sunshine show off their brilliance. In addition to loving to blow glass, Jesse loved to clean his art. He loved seeing the beauty shining in the sunlight.
There was a big difference between Jesse and most glass blowers. Their works were always obedient to the will of the maker. Jesse had a way of making his art. The art itself was alive and had a will of its own. It could choose whether or not to be used as it was created to be used. It was a wonderful trait. Most people were unaware of the difference. It wasn’t so much the way he blew the glass; that is pretty much the same with all glass blowers. No, it was his breathe that made the difference. Maybe it was because of the hollow where he lived, maybe the water, no one knew exactly what was different about his breathe, just that he had the ability to breathe life into whatever he made.
Most glass blowers blew their works of art and then sold them for as much profit as possible. Jesse didn’t sell his art; he gave it away. People wondered how he managed to live without any money, but it didn’t seem to bother Jesse. He lived by a stream and ate what he foraged in the nearby forest.
People came from all over to admire his work and have a drink from the stream. Jesse had built small picnic tables under the trees in his yard. People would sit and relax after their hike. Jesse knew it was a long hike from the road to get to him; so, he would offer visitors a drink of cool water from the beautiful glasses on his shelves. People were always amazed at the taste of the water. It seemed to revive them more than simple water should have.
After the drink of water, people would begin to notice the shelves with the plates, cups and saucers; the glasses and vases and other works of art. The glasses were especially delightful. They were each given one to drink from when served the water. But who notices the glass you are drinking from when you are hot and thirsty? Now the sparkling glasses captured their attention. Each glass stood so erect on the shelf. The glasses seemed to have a sense of pride in their usefulness. Jesse would smile at the people and wink with a twinkle in his eye at the glasses. They would straighten and stand taller if that was possible. There seemed to be an atmosphere of love in the hollow.
This scenario continued throughout the years. People who came as a child returned and brought their children. There was peace and harmony between the glass blower and his work. Jesse loved his work so much he named each piece he made. They all had an individual name so there was no confusion as to whom he was speaking. That is until one day when one glass decided it didn’t want to be cleaned. It was called Stanley. Stanley had a prominent place on the window shelves. He was in the center of the largest window where everyone could see him.
Stanley decided he didn’t like the water or the soap. He thought he was just fine. After all, he had just been sitting on the shelf and wasn’t used that day, so why did he have to be cleaned? When Jesse came by to clean him he told Jesse how he felt. Jesse just paused and looked at Stanley.
The other glasses gasped. How could he talk back to the glass blower? He had been so kind to them. They loved to shine in the sunlight. They all loved the delight they saw in people’s eyes. It felt wonderful to know they were useful and clean. What was wrong with Stanley?
Jesse decided to try to reason with Stanley. “Stanley, why don’t you want to be cleaned today?”
“Because I wasn’t used and I don’t like the soap and water.”
“But Stanley, you get dusty just sitting on the shelf.”
“I don’t care. I won’t allow you to clean me until I am used.”
“But Stanley, you can’t be used if you are dirty. Surely, you can understand that.”
“No, I am clean enough.”
“Not really, but it is your choice. I will not force you to be cleaned or used.”
“Fine. I’ll just sit here on the shelf. I will show you that there is no need to clean me.”
So the conversation went day after day. Stanley just sat on the shelf and watched the other glasses being used, cleaned and returned to the shelf.
The people came and saw Stanley standing there all dusty and wondered why Jesse would clean all the other glasses, but not Stanley. At first they just whispered to each other. Then they discussed it openly. Finally one little girl named Christine asked Jesse why he didn’t wash Stanley.
Jesse replied “Stanley doesn’t want to be cleaned.
This seemed very confusing to her. Why would Jesse care what Stanley thought and how could Stanley have a thought?. At her house if the dishes were dirty, they were washed no questions asked. “Why did you allow Stanley to make this decision? That’s not how we do it at my house.”
“No, it probably isn’t. But, your dishes and glasses don’t have a choice. They were made to always be obedient. They don’t have a life or a choice. My creations are given the gift of life and choice is part of that life. They can choose to be obedient and useful, or they can choose to be disobedient and not used.”
“Why did you do that?”
“Because I love them and they love me. If I force them to be obedient, then there is no love between us.”
“Oh”, said the little girl. She slowly walked back to her parents. “I asked the glass blower why he didn’t wash the glass and he said because he loved it.”
“What?”
“Yes, he also said the glasses loved him.”
“Honey, I think you misunderstood. Glasses are inanimate and cannot love. You know that.”
“I know, but that’s what he said.”
The family left shortly after this conversation. The little girl kept thinking about what Jesse had said. What did he mean? He didn’t seem to be teasing me or making fun of me. How could his glass love him? How could it have a choice? How could it be alive? None of this made any sense to her.
Her parent decided not to return to Jesse’s place. It was a long hike and he just confused their child. It was far more trouble than it was worth.
Years later Christine, now grown up, returned to talk to Jesse. He was still there blowing glass. And more importantly, Stanley was still there. By now he was half full of dust and still refusing to be cleaned. Stanley kept insisting he was “clean enough”. None of the other glasses could understand what was the matter with him. Jesse would ask Stanley everyday if he wanted to be cleaned. And everyday Stanley watched the others get cleaned and he refused, still Jesse did not force him.
People grew more and more concerned about Jesse. Why wouldn’t he just wash the glass? Jesse would try to explain, but people didn’t understand. There was even talk of having Jesse committed to a mental institution. But that never happened.
Christine still didn’t understand how a glass could have an opinion, or talk, but she decided she would talk to Stanley. After all what could it hurt? Christine asked, “Stanley why are you being so stubborn?”
To her utter surprise Stanley replied, “I am not being stubborn. I am clean enough and don’t know why everyone keeps trying to give me a bath.”
“Stanley, do you see the other glasses on this shelf?”
“Yes”
“You see how they shine so brilliantly in the sunlight?”
“Yes.”
“Stanley, look in this mirror. Do you shine as brightly as they do?”
“Well maybe not. But, I am still clean enough.”
“Clean enough for what? You cannot be drunk out of because you would make people sick. You are half full of dust and dirt.”
“But my job is to just sit here”.
Jesse interrupted, “No, Stanley, I created you to be useful, not to just sit on a shelf. That was your decision”.
This surprised Stanley. “What do you mean? I have always stood on this shelf.”
“But Stanley that was your choice. I wanted you to be useful, to be a source of joy and wonder to others. You chose to be dirty and useless. You have brought contempt upon yourself. I wanted to help, but you chose to reject me.”
“I am sorry. I didn’t think I could be useful to anyone. I am smaller than the other glasses on this shelf. Who would want to use me?”
“Those I created you for.”
“Who are they?”
“The children. They cannot handle the large glasses. That is why I made you, so they could hold you and have a drink of water.”
“Really?”
“Yes. You were made to be useful. Do you want to be cleaned, so you can be useful?”
“Can I do that? It’s been so long and I am rather dirty and half full of dust. I am not sure you can get me clean enough for anyone to drink from”.
“I can get you clean. Not only that, I will clean you, if you will allow me. I love you and want you to be used as I created you to be used”.
“Then I choose to be clean and useful.”
“Then come to me and let’s get you cleaned up”.
Christine was crying as it was such a beautiful moment. Jesse has plunged Stanley in the sink full of hot, soapy water. He gently scrubbed the filth away. He rinsed Stanley off and held him up to the light to make sure he shone as brightly as the other glasses . Christine insisted on drying Stanley so he could be place on the shelf next to the other sparkling glasses.
Christine had brought her daughter, Kristy, with her. Kristy was about 3 or 4 years old. She tugged on Christine’s blouse.
“Mommy, can I have a drink of water?”
“Yes.” Christine turned to Jesse who already was reaching for Stanley.
Together they all walked down to the creek and filled Stanley. Jesse then handed Stanley to Kristy. Kristy eagerly grabbed Stanley and took a long drink.
“Yum. This water tastes really good to me. Mommy do you want some?”
“No honey that is your water. Stanley was made just for you”.
After Kristy finished drinking the water, she gave Stanley back to Jesse and smiled. “Thank you, Mister.”
“You are quite welcome.”
After this Christine and Kristy left for the long walk back to the road. Kristy was happy to be running and skipping along the path. Christine was lost in thought. She didn’t totally understand what had happened, but somehow she felt different.
“So, Stanley, was it worth it to be clean and useful?” asked Jesse.
“Oh, yes. I just wish I hadn’t waited this long to find my purpose. Kristy hands were so small and they felt so good on my surface. She held me so gently. Will it always be like that?”
“No, sometimes the grip will be very tight and might even be painful; but they all will be thankful that you fulfilled your purpose and held the water they so needed.”
Jesse picked up Stanley and put him in the soapy water. After cleaning Stanley, Jesse set him back in his place on the shelf.
Stanley stood proudly and bathed in the warm sunlight. He shone brightly as he smiled back at the glass blower. Stanley thought about the next time he would be used. He could hardly wait. Never again would he refuse to be cleaned—being used was so much better.
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