Fires of the Faithful
Parable of the Promised Plow
“Let me tell you a story from my homeland and tell me what you think. It is a trifle…something I picked up while riding aimlessly through the countryside, but I think there was a reason even then that this story stuck in my mind.
I met an old peasant named Ramas, and complimented him on his fine plow, and wondered how he came by it. ‘I got it when that old fool Henri finally died and lived up to his promise.’ I was intrigued, so I asked about the village and discovered the story.
Henri was a peasant who worked a fine parcel of land down by a river. His land was rich, and he managed to earn enough after his obligations that he could eventually afford a fine steel plow. It was a masterfully-wrought plow, and it’s sharp blade cut the soil even more easily. He was able to continue meeting his obligations easily for many years. Everyone in the county knew about Henri’s fine steel plow.
One year, the spring rains were strong and hit full flood. A massive torrent of water washed away Henri’s barn and with it the steel plow. He was distraught.
Now, downstream, a young peasant boy named Ramas saw Henri’s fine steel plow caught in a tangle of branches, but it appeared it would soon be swept away forever. The boy quickly hitched a rope to his mule, clambered out across the branches and pulled the plow to shore. Moments after he was safe, the branches washed downstream.
He was proud of himself, and took the plow back to Henri, hoping for some small reward and some thanks. Henri thanked him profusely, and then said the following:
‘Without your efforts, my fine steel plow would be lost forever, therefore it is yours. I ask only that you let me use it until the end of my days, and then I will happily see that the plow is turned over to you to use as you see fit.’
Ramas was thrilled. He immediately accepted the terms and went to waiting for the day when Henri’s fine steel plow would be his. Henri lived for 20 more years, but true to his word, when he passed the plow was given to Ramas.
Now, you and I would expect that Ramas would be grateful for the plow, but how could we reconcile this with the man I met in the fields?
Over time, he began to harbor a resentment. And each year as he planted in his own rocky fields and harvested his poor crops, he watched as Henri again pulled in a great harvest. He spoke to himself, and said, ‘If it weren’t for me, Henri wouldn’t have that plow. And if not for that plow, his crops would not be so fine. He owes all that he has to me, and yet I scrape by.’ Even as two more floods took the plow downstream, and two other men rescued it, he thought, ‘If not for me, they would have not have had the opportunity to rescue it. They owe part of their reward to me.’
Ramas rescued the plow for Henri, hoping for a small reward and some thanks. He was rewarded with rights to the plow and readily agreed to the terms. And yet he was not grateful, but grew spiteful of the man who bequeathed such a fine implement to him. He felt this way because he felt that the plow was owed to him.
The Dark Mistress tells you that you owe your life to her, and for this reason, you owe her your body after death. But do you believe that she really values this gift, or does she look upon you as Ramas looked upon Henri? And the next time a successful merchant is Called to Service, ask yourself if his call was motivated by his true best service, or whether it was motivated by envy, resentment or other small-mindedness.
I bring word of a grateful Lady to whom you owe nothing. Anything you give she will return many times over, and she will be genuinely happy for your gifts. If you would learn of this Bright Lady, I will speak of her at noon at yonder pond. I will gladly welcome all who would offer their ears.”