Inspired by Kenny Kemp's "Welcoming Door"
Much was to be done today: dished to be cleaned, laundry to be hung and bread to be baked. But most importantly, oil to be replenished. Ebele's lamp oil had recently run low and she wanted to be prepared for tonight's festivities. Her chores scurried by in a blur as her excitement grew for the upcoming celebration. She had been invited to welcome the bridegroom and she couldn't contain her elation.
Leaving the bread to rise, Ebele left for the market with more sprite in her step than usual. She usually did not enjoy the market for it was crowded and humid with merchants always fighting for attention. She pushed her way through the crowed and found her desired stand off to the side.
Ebele patiently waited as the elderly woman filled her small, clay lamp. She noticed a man and then another young woman line up behind her, making Ebele thankful for when she arrived. After he lamp was filled, Ebele remained near the cart, relishing in the shade for a moment. The young man received his oil and also remained by the car, his reasons unknown since he remained in the boiling sun rather than the shade. He seemed to be observing the next person in line. She was young, probably not much younger than Ebele.
"Sorry" said the merchant woman "I have sold the last of my supply". Again, Ebele was thankful for her spot in line. "Please" the girl exhaled, "you must have more." The merchant shook her head and began packing up her station. The young girl closed her eyes and silently began to weep. As the girl wept, the young man standing by approached her and poured his oil into her lamp. Her tears stopped.
"But what of your lamp? Your lamp will not light if you give me your oil" The young man smiled.
"I know where to find more".
"But where?" the girl asked. "I know of no other source."
"God always replenishes our store when we ask of him" he gently replied.
"What is your name?"
Ebele remained stunned for a few moments, amazed at this man's generosity. She didn't realize how long she'd been standing there so she quickly started home, leaving behind the other woman just as stunned as she.
One approached Ebele pleading "Please, sister. Lend me some of your oil or I shall not be able to greet the bridegroom."
"If I give of my oil, neither of our lamps shall burn for I have not enough for two." Desperation engulfed the unprepared woman as she scurried off to ask of another.
As the panic among the five women increased, the final lamp bearer appeared from a distance. From a far, Ebele recognized her as the young girl in the market whom was given oil by the man. Even at a distance, Ebele noticed her shoulders slumped and her disposition somber. She carried no lamp. Ebele approached her.
"Excuse me sister but you were in the market earlier, yes? Did not a young man give you his oil? Where is your lamp?" The girl stifled a sob.
"My father thinks me lazy. When I told him of the occurrence in the market, he smashed my lamp to the ground shouting that if I cannot obtain my own oil I shall not bear a lamp at all." Ebele remembered the generosity of the young man, Jeshua, who gave all of his oil earlier. Ebele sighed and handed her lamp to the young girl.
"Here, take mine" Ebele encouraged. The young girl tenderly held the lamp in her hands.
"Twice have I been without and twice has God replenished. Bless you" the girl whispered. Ebele motioned for her to join the other bearers and the girl nodded in deepest gratitude. Ebele watched as the bridegroom appeared and the joy of the women who welcomed him. She saw the five who, without oil, shamefully departed. Ebele sat near the edge of the road overcome with sorrow. As she mourned with her face in her hands, she heard a shuffle of dirt beside her. She looked up and their sat the young man from the market. Before she could even ask the question, he spoke.
"My mother is at the wedding and promised I would help her. I saw you sitting alone from a ways back." Ebele reluctantly told of how she gave of her oil and now could not join the ceremony.
Jesua smiled and said "Worry not, woman. I know where to find more." He pulled out a small lamp from his sack and filled it with oil. "God provides for those who provide for others. And now, when the bridegroom departs, you will be the first to wish him well". He placed the lamp in her hands, then stood up and quietly entered the pavilion. Ebele knew not what kind of man he was but she offered a heartfelt prayer of gratitude to God for sending this man, a man her heart recognized.
|Five of Them Were Wise by Walter Rane|