The Beachcomber | A Parable

As it’s National Storytelling Week this week we thought we’d take a leaf out of Jesus’ book and publish a few of our own parables.

Just over a year ago Colourful Church held a parable writing competition which received an amazing variety of profound and entertaining submissions. Over the coming few weeks we’ll be publishing one of the top five winning parables each week, with a full listing of all the parables on the sixth week. You can keep up to date with these parables as we publish them through Facebook, Twitter, RSS, Google+ or by subscribing to this blog in the right hand sidebar.

Starting off the series is a parable called ‘The Beachcomber’ by Jenny Priestley.


The old man’s hut faced north and was as windswept and weather-beaten as his own face and hands.

This morning, as always, he stooped to sweep up the thin layer of sand that the salt wind had strewn across his floorboards.  He reached down to pick up two or three limpet shells and in doing so he felt the twinge of age in the muscles in his back.  He sighed as he straightened himself and went to place them on a shelf.  Every corner of his home was filled with his beach: a picture made from wave-worn driftwood, a mobile of clinking shells, a boat fashioned from pieces of plastic.

He was late today.  Soon the sound of children’s laughter would all but drown out the constant washing sound of the sea.  He pulled on a threadbare smock and made his way down to the tide line of kelp.

And so his inventory began: half a flip flop, a twist of fishing line, 5 battered cans, a plastic bottle, random pieces of bleached plastic, a deflated ball and three cuttlefish shells.  It was all swept up into carrier bags and as secretly as the salty deposit was made, it was taken away, leaving a clean stretch of sand for the holiday makers.

In 40 years he had seen the beach change.  On the east side, the sand was piled high towards the cliffs and on the west it has almost gone, leaving a mini delta of streams and rock pools.  It had been flatter once and easier to traverse.

Standing again in his hut, he felt weary. He still remembered his Father’s promise that if he faithfully looked after this stretch of beach, humble though it was, he would one day receive the family gold.  He had never seen gold before.  He was tired; his father long since dead.  He stared at the day’s haul and the weight of it all pressed in on his heart.  Not once had anyone thanked him and not once had he found anything of real worth.

Then it happened.

sand-pineconeThere can be months of rumination, but a decision is made at the speed of light.  He loved the beach and its people, but today would be his last day of combing the tide line.  I will always be a poor man, he thought to himself, but today I will be poor somewhere else, perhaps inland, perhaps I’ll find some farm work for a small wage.  And so he closed the door behind him and picked his way up and over the rocks that led him away from the ocean.

A little girl, fishing net in hand, smiled at him as she passed.  He paused for a moment and then disappeared up the lane that led inland.

Little fishing net girl returned again the next day.  Picking her way through the old bottles and tangled seaweed, she found a large wooden box, battered by the waves.  Moments later amidst the seagulls’ tumult she called out ‘Hey mummy, mummy, come quick.  Look what I’ve found….a box of gold coins!’

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’
Galatians 6:9

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