By Sherri Ward
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:45-46 New American Standard Bible)
Once in a small village near some very rocky mountains, there lived a man named Henry. Henry loved pizza and hot chocolate and his cat named Fred. But the one thing that Henry loved most of all was rocks.
Henry spent most of his time hunting for pretty rocks. He would wander here and there, climbing the rocky mountains and walking through grassy meadows, always looking for rocks. Sometimes he would even dig for them. Only the best ones would go into his backpack – pink quartz, red ruby or even rocks streaked with sparkles of real gold.
For a long time, Henry would put the rocks into every nook and cranny of his little house. He put them under the bed and in the closets. They filled the kitchen cupboards and even the sink! He piled them against the walls until finally there was hardly room for Henry or his cat! So, Henry opened a rock shop and began to sell the rocks.
In his shop, he would polish the rocks until they were shiny. Then he would decide on a fair price for each one and make little price tags for them. Last of all, he would pick out just the right spot for each rock on a shelf or table in the shop.
Now selling the rocks was fun, because he liked to talk to the villagers. They would come in and visit about the weather or the neighbor's cow, and sometimes they would buy a pretty rock to take home – maybe to be used as a paper weight or door stop. Henry was just a little sad to see each rock go, but after all, he needed the money to buy pizza and cat food, so it was a fair trade.
One day when Henry was out rock hunting, he happened upon the most beautiful rock he had ever seen. It was very large and had many different colors. It sparkled with gold in some places. In some places it glowed. Here it was red and there it was blue. In some places the rock was like crystal and you could actually see right through it! Henry had never seen such a wonderful rock. Surely there was not another one like it in the entire world!
Henry was very happy. He emptied his pack of all the other rocks he had gathered that day. They all looked quite small and dull next to this large, beautiful one. He rolled the big rock into his pack, and struggled to put the heavy pack on his back. Then he headed for home.
When at last Henry made it home with his heavy load, he was tired and his back hurt, but he was happy with his great find. He washed the rock and polished it until it sparkled, and then he put it in the middle of his best display table in the shop. Then, in spite of his sleepy eyes and aching back, he sat up half the night admiring it in great delight.
Now each day the villagers would come into the shop and marvel at the beautiful rock. Each day they would ask, "How much does it cost?" Each day Henry would shake his head and say, "I haven't decided yet. Come back tomorrow."
Then one day a princess came from her kingdom on the other side of the rocky mountains. She rode in a fine carriage pulled by horses. With her were servants and a cart pulled by a donkey. The cart was to carry back any treasure the princess might decide to buy.
She stopped at many shops, but nothing pleased her, for she was really quite spoiled and already owned almost everything you could think of. "Junk!" she said to the man who sold pots and pans. "Do I look hungry to you?" she rudely asked the woman who sold squash.
When she came to Henry's rock shop, she said to her servants, "I don't need any rocks, but perhaps the owner will give water to my horses."
"I'll go ask, Princess," said a loyal servant, but she replied, "No. Stay here, I'm going to find out myself." She really just wanted to get out and stretch a bit, and so she got out of her carriage and went into the shop.
When she asked, Henry gladly watered the horses for her, for he was a kind man. While she waited in the shop for him to return, her gaze fell on his beautiful rock. "My," she said to herself, "what a lovely rock!" When Henry returned, she said, "I have decided to buy that rock. What is your price?"
Henry's heart fell. "Oh, I haven't decided yet on the price. Will you come back tomorrow?"
"No, I cannot. My kingdom is far away, on the other side of the rocky mountains. Just tell me now and whatever it is I will pay it."
Henry was very nervous. He wrung his hands. He scratched his head. "Oh, I just don't know," he said. "I really don't think I can sell the rock..."
"Nonsense!" the princess snapped. "This is a rock shop. You sell rocks and I want that rock!"
"Well, well..." Henry stammered at last, "you may have the rock ... for 1000 gold coins," for he thought to himself that even a princess would not pay that much for just a rock. Sadly, he was wrong.
Before Henry could blink, the princess called to her servant. "Give this man 1000 gold coins! And put this rock into my cart!" They did just that, and the cart rolled and creaked away, carrying the rock. Henry was left standing and staring at ten sacks of gold coins.
Well, Henry had been very poor and now he was very rich, but he was even sadder than he was rich. The shop looked so empty, so dull without the beautiful rock. Even the gold coins, no matter how he stacked them, didn't sparkle and glow like his beloved rock. He knew he would never again find anything so wonderful. He sat up half the night, trying to think what he might buy with the gold, but all that seemed to matter was that he had lost what he treasured most and could not get it back again. He finally went to bed and cried into his pillow.
On her way home, the princess met a peddler who sold mirrors. "I don't think I need any mirrors," the princess said to him. "I have a lovely rock!"
The peddler looked into the cart, and then said slyly to the princess, "Ah, Princess, the rock is lovely, indeed, but not nearly as lovely as you!" He held a mirror so that the princess could see her reflection.
The princess stared this way and that way into the mirror. She held her nose high, she held it low. She smiled, she frowned, and she patted her hair. At last she said, "You're right! I am far lovelier than any old rock! I'll buy all the mirrors you have!" The princess was not only spoiled, she was very vain.
"But Princess," said a loyal servant, "where will you put all those mirrors?
"In the cart, of course." The princess batted her eyes as she continued to gaze at her reflection.
"But the rock..." said the servant.
"Dump the rock!" the princess snapped as she checked her face for pimples and dimples.
The servants did as they were told, and the rock rolled into the valley below. The princess took one mirror into the carriage with her while the rest were placed into the cart. She smiled and frowned and batted her eyes all the way home and didn't give the rock another thought.
Henry thought of the rock every day. Sometimes he took his pack into the rocky mountains, but he rarely put a rock into it any more. They all seemed too small, too boring, and he sadly tossed them aside.
Then one day he just happened to walk in the valley below the road which wound high up into the mountains. It was the very road that the princess had taken to get back to her kingdom. As you might think, as Henry was poking around in the bushes looking for rocks, he saw it. He thought he must be dreaming, for how could it be his very own beautiful rock which he had sold to the princess? But there it was, right in the very spot it had rolled to from her cart.
Henry was overjoyed! He laughed, he cried, and once again, he rolled the rock into his pack. By the time he got back to his shop, he was tired and his back hurt, but his joy was so great over finding his beloved rock that he hardly noticed the pain.
Henry quickly summoned a faithful messenger. "Take these gold coins to the princess on the other side of the rocky mountains," he instructed him. With the gold, he sent a note to the princess which read, "I have back my beautiful rock, so you must have back your gold." When the princess received the gold she was delighted, and with it she bought enough mirrors to completely cover every wall of her castle.
Henry happily sold many rocks in his little shop after that. But no one asked him any more what the price was for his very special rock. A carefully printed sign beside it stated, "Not for sale at any price!"
Sherri Ward, a Christian for over thirty years now, lives near the very rocky mountains of Colorado. She wrote ‘‘Henry’’s Rock’’ just for fun, as she sat on a rock in the mountains while her husband fished nearby. She has three grown-up sons, two of whom are married, and is Grandma to twin two-year-old girls. She also has two cats, neither of which is named ‘‘Fred.’’
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