Posted September 12, 2011:
The Pebble That Was Good For Nothing

by Jude Fischer.

Once there was a little pebble lying on the ground. He had lain there for years with other pebbles.

At first it had been quite uncomfortable—some of the other pebbles had been abrasive, rubbing against him with their sharp edges. How irritating it had been! But over years of rubbing, they had rounded and smoothed each other off and now they lay content together in silent companionship.

Pebble enjoyed lying in the warm sun, looking up at the blue sky, watching clouds go by and birds flying overhead. But he was often trodden underfoot, and he hated being walked on. He hated being small and weak and insignificant and good for nothing.

He wished he were good for something. The stream at his side supplied water to the thirsty and was the home of many kinds of fish. The tree next to it gave shelter to birds and provided shade from the heat of hot summer days. The clouds above brought rain to the earth, making gardens grow.

But he was good for nothing and could do none of these things.

That rock nearby was often used as a seat upon which the weary could rest from their journeys. Once when he was young he thought he would grow up to be a big strong rock like that, providing a resting place for travelers.

Or better yet, he hoped he might grow up to become the cornerstone of a magnificent building. Or maybe he’d become a mighty boulder sitting high above the countryside, enjoying the splendid view.

But he never grew at all. He watched the grass grow, the tree grow, the birds grow—but all the time he remained just a tiny, weak little pebble, trodden underfoot, unnoticed and useless.

One day a shepherd boy walked by. Pebble saw the foot coming down and braced himself for the blow.

But the boy glanced down, and for some reason his eye was attracted by pebble. Maybe it was his smooth satin finish that caught the boy’s eye or the sun sparkling on his warm reddish color.

Whatever it was, the boy bent down and picked pebble up. Pebble enjoyed the caress of the boy’s hand and the rolling between his fingers.

After a while the boy put pebble in his shepherd’s bag where pebble took a nice long rest.

Eventually the boy took him out again, admired his lovely color and fine finish, and played with him a while.

Sometimes the boy would make music on his harp, and pebble enjoyed listening to the beautiful sounds. It relaxed him and made him feel one with his surroundings. Pebble loved his new companion.

Then one day there came bad news. A mighty army had gathered in the area, threatening the peaceful countryside. They were ready to kill, to take people away as slaves, to plunder houses, to destroy villages, and to burn fields.

Pebble was terribly worried about his friend. He wished there were something he could do to help. But what could a little pebble do? Nothing. For he was so little and weak, good for nothing.

At the head of the army was a giant of a man, taller than anyone pebble had ever seen. He was dressed in strong armor with a helmet of bronze upon his head. He carried the sharpest sword and spear to be found anywhere.

He challenged anyone to fight him, but no one dared. Everyone was terrified. Who could possibly be victorious over such a man? There was no one nearly as big and strong as he. To take him on would surely mean death.

The people whispered among themselves and tried to come up with a solution, all to no avail.

Finally David—that was the shepherd’s name—did a very foolish and rather crazy thing. He came forward and volunteered to fight the giant soldier.

Everyone tried to dissuade him. "How could you fight him?" they said. "He’s gigantic, and you are small. He’s dressed in fine armor and has the best weapons available, but you have none. He’s been a soldier all his life, and you are just a boy with no experience."

But David insisted and started toward the giant. The giant in turn approached the shepherd boy. As the giant came closer, he was filled with scorn, for here was just a good-looking, inexperienced boy. What could he do?

As the massive soldier drew closer, pebble became horrified. His heart pounded. What chance did his little friend have? How could he escape this heavily armed giant bearing down on him?

How pebble wished he could do something to help, to save the shepherd boy! But he was such a tiny thing, powerless and good for nothing.

Suddenly the boy ran toward the giant, and pebble was startled to feel the boy put his hand into his bag, pick him up, and take him out.

David said a little prayer, put pebble in his sling, swung him round and round above his head, then let him go. Whiz! Pebble flew swiftly through the air, directly towards the immense warrior. He hit the giant on the forehead, broke his skull, and the menacing soldier toppled forward to the ground.

When they saw that their leader was dead, the rest of the enemy army turned and fled in terror. The people were free!

So it was that David defeated the giant with pebble! Everyone was astounded. Pebble was absolutely amazed.

He had felt so useless, too little to do anything. But in the boy’s hand he had slain the evil giant and won a great victory.

As he lay there in astonishment, he heard familiar footsteps. It was David approaching. He leaned over, picked pebble up, and put him back in his bag. Pebble was grateful that the boy and his people had been freed from danger, and grateful that he had played a part in it.

Now he knew it didn’t matter that he was little and small and powerless. For he was good for something. All he needed to do was stay near the boy, be ready, and let the boy do with him whatever he willed.

Reprinted from Be Always Little, (1996), pp.85-89, available from MH Publications.



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