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The Pearl of Great Price

Matthew 13.45-46

The story of the Pearl of Great Price put me in mind of the The Quiltmaker's Gift
by Jeff Brumbeau. This is my take on that story.

Once upon a time there was an old lady who had retired to live in a cosy little cottage on the edge of a beautiful wood. There she had everything that she needed.

Her surroundings were lovely and they changed with the seasons - lush bright greens in springtime, rich deep reds, oranges and yellows in the autumn, beautiful icy patterns on the branches in wintertime, and dew sparkling on the spiders’ webs in the early morning.

The old lady’s pension provided her with all the food and comforts that she could want for, so she didn’t need to work any more. And she decided to pass her time by pursuing her favourite hobby. She sewed the most beautiful quilts, covered in beautiful flowers, or shapes, or animals made out of cotton in bright rainbow colours. And in fine weather, because her cottage was very, very cosy, she liked nothing better than to spread out her latest quilt on the grass and work at it on her hands and knees.

The pictures were so wonderful and so intricate that the old lady could have sold them. Many people admired them, and her fame spread far and wide. But she gave them all away to people who were poor and needed a quilt to keep them warm and cheer them up when they were sad. Giving the quilts away to people who would really appreciate them made the old lady very happy.

One day the king was visiting the region where the old lady lived. His advisers told him about her marvellous quilts and he decided that he had to see one for himself. So he called to see her in her humble cottage. She showed him the quilts that she was making and he was fascinated. ‘I must have one,’ he said. ‘How much will it cost for you to make one for me.’ ‘They’re not for sale,’ she replied.

‘I see you’re going to drive a hard bargain!’ said the king. ‘So I’ll get right to the point, shall I? I am enormously rich. This whole country belongs to me. This entire wood belongs to me. I have so much money that I can have anything I want. I already own the best of everything else. So just name your price. You won’t need to live in a cottage any more. You’ll be able to afford a mansion.’

‘They’re not for sale,’ said the old lady. ‘I don’t need your money and I don’t care how much you already own. I only give my quilts to people who really need them.’

The king went away feeling very sad. The quilts were so amazing that he wanted to possess one more than anything else in all the world. But he saw that, as things stood, he would never have one.

Many years went by, and the king acquired many more expensive things, but none of them really satisfied him and sometimes he would think about the wonderful quilts which the old lady made, and he would feel sad that he did not have one.

And then one day he suddenly had a brilliant idea. If he gave away all the things he owned to charities or to people who were poor, the old lady might make a quilt for him after all!

So that is exactly what he did. He went back to the old lady when he owned nothing at all, and she gladly gave him her very best quilt. ‘When you came to see me before, you had so many possessions that one of my quilts would only have been another thing to add to your collection,’ she said. ‘But now that it is the only thing you own I know that you will really treasure it.’

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