Sunday, September 28, 2008

What I Could not Sully

I was on the road that led from the palace. It was a narrow street, cobbled in gold, edged by a dirt verge that might have grown something if it were not thronged so often by multitudes eager to see their beloved prince. The milling crowds craned their necks and strained their eyes. Finally the expectant babble rose to shouts of welcome and joy.

The king was coming.

He came on foot, slowly, pressed, but not impeded by the crowd, his gentle looks being received with the depths of gratitude and devotion from the hearts he touched with his gaze.

He was dressed simply in a white garment, but the whiteness of the white was such that it shone, and the cleanest snow on the brightest day would have seemed dull in comparison.

The crowds were not frenzied, but they were throwing at him things that symbolized their worship, their praise, their devotion. Everyone was doing it. These things pelted his garment and fell to the ground at his feet.

It was expected.

He was worthy.

Suddenly I felt slapped in the face with my own disgrace. All I had was the mud I was standing on. How had I come here? What was I doing here, standing here, wanting to see his face – with nothing! Even had I left, I could not have returned with anything worthy of this man. What was I doing, standing here, in his path, with nothing but my own miserable face betraying my wretchedness? I had nothing I could make good enough for his majesty. My unworthiness forced my gaze away from his. I could not look in his face; not with nothing but filth.

I had failed him.

He came onward, and kneeling on the ground I grasped fistfuls of the mud and threw with the masses. The mud pelted the hem of his garment and fell to the cobbled street beneath his feet – my pathetic attempt at praise, at worship. Worship – that with which heaven resounded with such golden glory and holy perfection.

Suddenly I saw what others beside me were casting at those beautiful, beautiful clothes. I gaped. Stones! Pebbles! Common, lowdown, vulgar dirt! Disgusting, despicable gravel! My rage rose. How dare this be offered to this worthiness, this majesty, this beauty?

Almost as if in a dream in slow motion, the cries of adulation faded and I watched clod after clod of dirty, common filth splatter his garments and fall to the ground. I despised myself; with vehemence and hatred and withering scorn, I despised myself. How dare I? Yet like a machine I continued the motions.

It was expected.

He was worthy.

Abruptly, my gaze froze in shock on his garment as I watched the muck that represented all I had to offer deflect off that whiteness.

It left no stain.

The sight slammed home the revelation that had been hidden from me: nothing I did could sully that purity.

Absolutely nothing I did could sully that purity.

He was receiving not the gift, but the giving.

©2007 Kim Blight

sul•ly verb, -lied, -ly•ing, noun, plural -lies.
–verb (transitive)
1. to soil, stain, or tarnish.
2. to mar the purity or luster of; defile: to sully a reputation.
–verb (intransitive)
3. to become sullied, soiled, or tarnished.