Trying to think about life and how God makes it full

Stories, Patterns, and Presence

here’s a story to end this year:

The Honest Jeweller [William J. Bausch, Storytelling, Imagination, and Faith, (Twenty-Third Publications, Connecticut, 1985), pp 204-205]

A poor but honest jeweller was arrested for a crime he never committed. He was placed in a high and well-protected prison in the centre of the city. One day, after he had been imprisoned for months, his wife came to the main gate. She told the guards how her husband, the poor jeweller, was a devout and prayerful man. He would be lost without his simple prayer rug. Would they not allow him to have this single possession? The guards agreed that it would be harmless and gave him the prayer rug. Five times daily he would unroll his rug and pray.

Weeks passed, and one day the jeweller said to his jailers, “I am bored sitting here day after day with nothing to do. I am a good jeweller and, if you will let me have some pieces of metal and some simple tools, I will make you jewellery. You could then sell what I make in the bazaar and add to your low salaries as jailers. I ask for little – just something to fill the idle hours and keep my skill in practice.”

The poorly paid jailers agreed that it would be a good arrangement. Each day they brought some bits of silver and metal and some simple tools. Each night they would remove the tools and metal and take home the jewellery that he had made. Days grew into weeks, weeks into months. One bright morning when they came to the jeweller’s cell, they found it empty! No sign was found of the prisoner or of how he had escaped from this well-protected prison.

Some time later, the real criminal was arrested for the crime the poor jeweller had been falsely accused of. One day in the city’s bazaar, long after that, one of the guards saw the ex-prisoner, the jeweller. Quickly explaining that the real criminal had been caught, he asked the jeweller how he had escaped. The jeweller proceeded to tell the amazing story.

His wife had gone to the main architect who had designed the prison. She obtained from him the blueprints of the cell doors and the locks. She had then had a design woven into a prayer rug. Each day he would pray, his head would touch the rug. Slowly, he began to see that there was a design, within a design, within another design, and that it was the design of the lock of his cell door. From the bits of leftover metal and his simple tools, he fashioned a key and escaped!

and here are some thoughts to consider as you end this year and contemplate the new one:
1. Look at the circumstance you find yourself in;
2. Look at your responses to your circumstances;
3. Look for the patterns of God in your circumstances;
4. Telling our stories helps us to see God’s patterns, and can show us the patterns of how we respond.

That’s very important because:

Within God’s patterns and our patterns are the keys to unlocking the meaning for our existence in this world; individually and together as a people of God.

And remember the Christmas message as we go into the New Year



December 31, 2006 - Posted by | contemplative, culture, god, jesus, religion


  1. Hi Tony – Well done for keeping up the blogging for the entire year. Keep it coming in 2007.

    Comment by Dom | December 31, 2006 | Reply

  2. thanks dom, nice to have you along for the ride.

    Comment by revtc | December 31, 2006 | Reply

  3. Hellow,
    meeting with you was the best story to end this year: thanks for the post. I hope we will have the correspondence yet.
    My best wishes to you. Happy New Year

    Comment by Tomas | December 31, 2006 | Reply

  4. bless you tomas, and happy new year to you too.

    Comment by revtc | January 1, 2007 | Reply

  5. This is my comment on your previous posting about “The Seasons of the Year”

    The major Christian festivals do give me a sense of the “Seasons of the year”, as they are focal times for both reflection and celebration – and many other feelings
    As human beings we do need these “focal points”, otherwise we can easily get caught up in the rush-rush-rush of our modern day Western Culture.

    Pentecost of course is the most important Christian festival for me, as it represents to me a time of celebrating the Human Spirit (as opposed to the Holy Sprit). Your story of “The Honest Jeweller” certainly shows the potential creativity of the human being, as well as the capacity for human beings to relate and work together, as did the man and his wife in the story.

    However I do like the fact that for Christians (and myself) Christmas is not yet over. In the Christian calendar we have the advent time – a time of preparation. But we also have the period after Christmas Day – for reflection. Easter is treated in the same way – with the period of Lent followed by the time before Pentecost.

    However, it will never be Christmas “again”. Next year it will be an entirely “new” Christmas. Our lives may be very different. However, there is our tendency to live our lives in the same old patterns – we see life as a simple cycle of Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter. But life is not a cycle – it is a spiral. It is always a different Spring, always a different Christmas, unless we have lost our human sense of mystery and awe and wonder.

    I do constantly bore people with the Jewish Torah/Christian Old Testament passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which I feel expresses the spiral seasons of human life so well
    “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:
    – A time to be born, and a time to die”
    The passage finishes with
    “- A time to love, and a time to hate
    – A time for war, and a time for peace”

    However I much prefer the version written by the folk singer Pete Seegar, and sung by the rock group called the Byrds in the 1960’s, entitled “Turn, Turn, Turn”
    This continues the Ecclesiastes passage shown above with the words:
    “Turn, Turn, Turn
    There is a time for Peace
    I swear it is not to late”

    Unless we do find a way to constantly “Turn, Turn, Turn” life will be for us a cycle and not a spiral and we will lose our human sense of mystery and awe and wonder. It will not be a different Spring, or a different Christmas next time. In our current Western Culture we can so easily lose touch with ourselves and the world around us. We can become not connected. We can become dead inside.

    I feel Christians have problems with the passage from Ecclesiastes:
    “A time to Love, and a time to Hate”, but again I have gone on long enough. I will make my familiar comments on human emotions some other time. I will however add that I am classified as severely mentally ill, and therefore in some ways more in touch with the depths of my emotions than most people. I am periodically suicidal, and the Ecclesiastes passage “A time to be born, and a time to die” has always had a very great significance for me.
    As an atheist I do not of course believe in an afterlife and know therefore I only have a brief human lifetime to try to “make a difference”

    Again I have gone on too long – I will express my views on “The circumstances in which I find myself” in your next posting. I have celebrated the most recent Christmas in my own personal way, but done so necessaarily within the context of a 20th century obscene Western cultural way of celebrating Christmas, with few signs of spirituality in recent days. I do hope more Christians will soon start to “Turn-Turn-Turn” and begin the development of a 21st Century way of celebrating Christmas which will give the rest of humanity some hope rather than disgust and despair.

    LIVE – Feel Connected (sometimes) – Be Joyful (sometimes)

    Comment by Lawrence Woods | January 4, 2007 | Reply

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