Peninnah was a happy little stone, skipping through the dense forest, polishing her coat to a black sheen. Every day she would hop down to the pond to gaze at her reflection while waiting for the Raccoon to bathe her in the still waters.
“Mr. Raccoon, aren’t I the most beautiful stone you’ve ever seen?”
“Why yes, Peninnah, there’s not another stone as pretty as you.”
Peninnah’s pride swelled as she thought of her own beauty. But doubt soon crept in. She was no longer satisfied with the raccoon’s praises. So she set out through the wilderness to prove that she was the most precious stone in the land.
Along the way, Peninnah came across a piece of red sandstone. “Look at you!” Peninnah exclaimed as a scowl crossed her face. “You are old and flaky. Pieces of you litter the ground as you move. How can anything as ugly as you be called a rock?” She stuck her nose in the air as the red sandstone crumbled in shame.
Further down the path Peninnah came across a lump of yellow quartz. Standing tall she spoke, “And what kind of rock are you supposed to be? You are dull and dirty. Old and worn out, that’s what you are. I am a true rock, black, shiny, and beautiful. Nothing compares to me.” She turned and hopped down the path, not giving the yellow quartz another thought.
She was so caught up in herself that she didn’t see the deer walking her way. “OUCH!” she screamed as his hoof struck her on the head. “Watch where you are going you clumsy beast. How dare you scuff my beautiful color!”
The deer glanced down at Peninnah and laughed.
Peninnah was furious. She slumped down on a grassy mound feeling sorry for herself. She was looking around for something else to ridicule when some boys came along gathering stones. I’m sure they will choose me! I am the most beautiful one out here, she thought to herself.
Peninnah grinned when one of the boys picked her up. But, the excitement was short lived. The boy dropped her into a dark bag without a second glance.
“Hey!” Peninnah exclaimed as other rocks bounced around her, “you’re scratching my finish!”
The other rocks in the bag laughed and jumped around Peninnah, mocking her. She hid her eye as tears turned to mud running down her face.
When all the rocks were dumped out on a table, Peninnah looked around and cringed. The other rocks were all common pieces of coal. Rough and pot-marked, covered in black sticky dust, they had no shine. “Ugh! I can’t associate with such ugliness.”
“Sweetheart, I don’t know who you’re fooling. You’re just an old piece of coal just like us.”
“I am a black onyx. I shine both day and night!” Peninnah cried.
The lump of coal grinned and pointed to a glass showing her reflection.
Peninnah’s heart sank. She was a black lump of coal. Gone was the shine, the sparkle, the beauty. All replaced by the crude scars of life. Bloated, cracked, and full of filth she sunk in sorrow and shame.
Peninnah didn’t look up when the man took her in his scarred hands and walked away. She waited to feel the heat of the fiery furnace consuming her. She thought back over her life and saw how prideful she had been, hurting others for sport, adding layers of filth to her life. She longed to go back and make things right, but it was too late.
The black smoke stung her nose as Peninnah felt the immense heat. The crushing pressure engulfed her and she cried out, “Forgive me!”
All was quiet. The fire gone. The scarred hands pulled Peninnah out of the ashes and dunked her in cool, fresh water. When she emerged she was wrapped in soft white linen.
Peninnah looked up and saw the man smile. “You are beautiful, my precious stone.”
Peninnah couldn’t believe her ears. She gazed down into the water and looked at her reflection. Expecting to see the black lump of coal, instead she was greeted by a brilliant diamond, glistening in the morning sun.
She was a new creature. The old things had passed away and new things had come. Never again would she live to honor herself. Instead she traveled the land glorifying the one who by grace gave her new life.
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