The king and the potter

The people were happy under his rule as there was peace and prosperity in the kingdom. The king had a very big and beautiful garden in which grew the best flowers. The king himself plucked the perfect and fragrant flowers for worship. Near the palace was a temple which the king visited every day and offered the flowers to the deity.

On the outskirts of the kingdom lived a poor potter. He slogged all day long, making clay utensils at his wheel. He sold these for a living. The hard work and the long distance he had to travel were very tiring.  At the end of each day, he made some clay flowers which he offered to the same deity, saying, “O God, the temple is a long way off and I am not able to worship you there. All I can offer are these clay flowers. Please accept my humble offering.”

One day, as usual, the king went to the temple. He was dismayed to see that the lovely flowers he had offered were pushed aside. In their place, at the feet of the Lord, were a few clay flowers. The next day and the day after, the same thing happened. The king was puzzled. How did the clay flowers appear there? Why were his glorious blossoms cast aside?

That night, the king had a strange dream. An apparition appeared in his dream and told him to visit the potter who lived on the edge of the kingdom. The next morning, the king called his minister and told him of the dream he’d had.

“I must find the potter. Let us set out at once.” So the king, with his entourage, started on the journey in search of the potter. It wasn’t very long before the potter was seen. He was at his wheel, pots and pans front of him. He was giving the finishing touches to the clay flowers he was making.

When he saw the king, he was very frightened. “What have I done? Why has the king come here?” he thought. He stood up and greeted the king respectfully. As there was nowhere the king could sit, the potter led him to a stone seat under a large, shady tree. In those days, people believed in letting trees grow and rarely felled them.

The king sat down and looked at the potter. The nervous potter asked, “To what do I owe the honour of this visit?” The king answered, “Tell me why you make these clay flowers.”

“After I finish all my work, I don’t have the time to go to the temple. All I can offer God are these clay flowers. So I make these flowers at the end of every day and offer them to God.  There is nothing else I can offer Him,” he explained simply.

The king was deeply moved by the devotion of the potter. He realised that God preferred the whole-hearted offering of the poor potter to the glorious flowers of the king which were offered with pride.

“The potter has taught me a lesson in humility,” thought the king. Being a generous man, he left a bag of gold for the potter and returned to the palace.

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