Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gifts (of the Spirit or service) (11/22/07)
TITLE: Humble Pie - A Parable
By Christine Dunn
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The performer sang praises with the finest operatic voice in the whole of Seronia. As he finished the piece with a little bow, King Elkanah’s servants stood up and clapped. For a while the young man lapped up the adoration he received, grinning proudly with a fake smile. Finally he turned to the King.
The ruler smiled, though continued to stare through him.
“Thank you.” He eventually uttered. “You may now leave.”
Chief Messenger, Tobias assessed his superior’s countenance in despair. “An exceptional young man.” he commented, as the door slammed behind him.
“Well, he certainly gave a moving performance.” The King gazed into space, as though trying to figure out a difficult riddle. “Though, there’s still something missing.”
“Your highness,” Tobias could not hide his frustration any longer. “We have searched the whole of Seronia, for those who will encourage you with their talents. We have been entertained by the most wonderful artistes, yet not one has pleased you.”
King Elkanah had hoped to find someone who would remove the cloud of gloom which hung over him recently. Yet all the juggling jesters, fire eating magicians and dancers in the country only managed to make him feel worse about the world.
“Aren’t there any others at all?” he replied calmly. “Isn’t there one good person in the land who can glorify me in an adequate manner?”
“Well, I can think of one more.” Tobias answered. “But she says her gift is ‘humble’ and ‘weak’.” He rolled his eyes, realising how desperate the situation was becoming.
The King looked thoughtful, as he studied the jewels encrusting the future crowns.
“Send for her.”
Some hours later, the door was held open, as Tobias ushered in an elderly lady carrying a basket. She limped slowly towards the throne, her head down in reverence.
“Your highness. ”
The lady eventually managed to kneel before the throne, then lifted her head to see the King’s face. As soon as she set eyes upon him, she became alive with wonder, her face shining with radiance.
King Elkanah felt something stir within him, as he considered the wrinkled, yet strangely beautiful face now gazing up at him. There was undoubtedly something very different about her. It struck him that she looked lovingly into his face, and didn’t stare longingly towards the crowns on display, as so many had.
“I bring a modest offering to you today - something hand-made. It represents something I adore doing, and it usually puts a smile on the face of others too.”
Her voice cracked, as she unwrapped an object from her basket with shaking hands. Handing it to Tobias, she stood back, staring downwards again.
Tobias stifled a laugh when he observed what she had given him - An apple and cinnamon pie on a tray with a fork and some ginger cordial. Though King Elkanah took the pie gladly.
“ Cookery - That’s a very useful talent.”
He could feel a smile creeping over his face already. The sweet savour filled his nostrils, as he breathed in.
Soon, the light pastry melted on his tongue, while the pinch of cinnamon warmed his very heart. He could tell that the ginger cordial was made to the right consistency, and the choicest apples had been picked for the tart.
As King Elkanah ate, a peculiar sensation overwhelmed him. It occurred to him that this dear lady really knew him. She had researched his every like and dislike, then used what she could do well to gratify him. As he finished the delightful dessert, his taste-buds craving more, he was touched by the lady’s earnest offering.
Stooping down from the throne, the King picked up a bejewelled crown. He placed it lovingly upon the bowed head before him.
“You have used your abilities with the sole intention of pleasing me. This has brought great joy to me, since your worship is sincere. You possess a true spirit of hospitality.”
The elderly lady lifted her head in shock, speechless at the prospect of receiving a crown.
“But I - I’m just not worthy.” She finally stammered.
With tears filling her eyes, she removed the crown from her head. Walking forwards resolutely, compelled by the desire to put it in its rightful place, she again knelt before the King. The jewels glinted in the light, as she placed it at his feet.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)
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