Doran cried out in fright. However, his last moment had not arrived as he imagined… so he renewed his surrender into God’s hands.
In the beautiful lands of France, near the River Seine, a curious conversation can be heard among the many melodies of nature:
“How lovely it is to be here on the riverbank! There are no difficulties and complications to worry about; the shade is pleasant and the breeze is cool… what a lovely existence!” – exclaimed a tree branch that lay upon the ground.
“How can you content yourself with such mediocrity? Have you never dreamed of becoming a jewellery box or a barrel to contain precious wine?” – replied Doran, an oddly shaped stone nestled in the riverbed.
“What world are you living in? Do you really think that we could ever amount to anything great? Don’t be a dreamer! We must be content with what we are. For example, I fell from that tree and I’m almost dry. Nothing extraordinary will come of me. And what future awaits you? The river will surely cast you into the sea.”
Doran fell into silent reflection, realizing that it was no use arguing with the branch. He looked up into the sky and murmured a prayer to God. In this supplication, he placed his existence in the Creator’s hands and confided to Him his deepest desire: he longed to be of use in some sublime mission.
One day not long afterwards, something unexpected happened. A man appeared crouched on the riverbank, and began to plunge a pan into the river, stirring up the stones in its bed. In the blink of an eye, Doran was caught up in the pan and lifted dripping from the water. After a few moment of swirling, the man peered at him with interest and then carefully stowed him in the bag he carried.
As he was whisked away into the unknown, a thought occurred to Doran: “I don’t know what’s happening, but I feel that God is going to grant my request!”
When he was taken from the bag, he blinked in amazement! He was surrounded by coats of shining armour, strong spears and stout shields. He understood that he was in a smithy.
He also discovered that he was a precious metal – in fact, the most precious of all: he was a gold nugget! He had been brought to the forge shop to achieve his maximum splendour. But for this to happen, he would have to let himself be moulded…
The first days went by happily and tranquilly. Everything seemed wonderful in this new place. But just as calm precedes the storm, a new upheaval was about to interrupt Doran’s peaceful existence.
One day, Theodore the blacksmith – the one who had panned him from the riverbed – grasped him with a pair of tongs and carried him to the furnace. “I’m going to be thrown into the flames!” – shrieked Doran in terror. Indeed, he was placed into the fire, but the flames did not devour him as he had imagined. Therefore, Doran renewed his surrender to God.
Time seemed to stand still and the temperature only rose steadily. In the throes of his anguish, he waged an inner battle: “Was that tree branch right after all? Did I allow myself to be carried away with dreams of greatness?” As these thoughts gnawed at him, he glimpsed the cool and pleasant world outside of the flames, which only served to heighten his torment: “Have I been mistaken? Was that hope I felt the day I was drawn out of the Seine a mere illusion? Does the man who chose me know what I really am? Did I trust him in vain? Perhaps I’m really not gold at all, but just a base metal, and since I’m good for nothing, now I’ve been discarded in this fire…”
His lament was cut short as Theodore stepped forward and plucked him from the furnace. Doran gaped in wonder. He had taken on a different hue! He was literally the colour of fire! He was incandescent! Interiorly, he felt cleansed. He understood that he had been purged of his impurities in those fearsome flames.
But just as a feeling of consolation began to settle upon him, he found himself subjected to a new ordeal! The craftsman placed him on an anvil and began to pound him relentlessly with a heavy hammer. Whenever he cooled down a bit, he was thrust back into the furnace, and the process was repeated… Time went by, and between fire and anvil, amid prayer and much suffering, Doran was finally completely transformed.
In addition to his purification, he was meticulously crafted by Theodore. This process also involved excruciating pain, but the growing satisfaction shown by the smith at every step encouraged him in his tribulation. At last the artisan’s face was revealed in Doran’s brilliance. The gold had become a mirror of the artist’s smile!
Finally, Theodore took Doran and carefully laid him on a beautiful scarlet cushion. Suspense mounted as he was taken on a long journey to a distant place. Where were they headed?
They finally arrived at the Palace of Versailles and were ushered into the noblest chamber. There stood a boy with the bearing of a sovereign, crowned with a magnificent diadem and dressed in a regal robe. He was flanked by the royal family and members of the nobility of France, gathered in solemn ceremony. Theodore respectfully sank to his knee before the king’s son and extending the pillow on which Doran lay, he said: “I wish to offer you this unbreakable gold sword, symbol of your warrior soul. When the time comes for you to perform valiant deeds in defence of the Church and the kingdom, I pray that you do so wielding this sword, which has been fashioned in your honour!”
It was then that Doran understood his mission: he was precious gold and Theodore had realized his value. But it had been absolutely necessary for him to pass through the fire and to undergo the rectifying strokes of the hammer to reach his maximum splendour. God had fulfilled his hopes, or rather, surpassed his expectations!
Doran had never dared imagine that he would become a sword in the hands of the future king of France, yet this was the transformation the Lord had planned to work in him all along. So it is with all who desire the sublime, who are not satisfied with a life of trivialities, but trust that the Almighty will satisfy their holy yearnings. ◊