Pierced at the Door
“But if your servant says to you, ‘ I do not want to leave you,’ because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.” – Deut. 15:16
“Come in,” the Master said to me. I was nervous. I had a request. My hands, cold and clammy, were clutched in front of me as I entered my Master’s study. The small room always filled me with awe; it was so neat and full of interesting oddities. I very rarely was asked to clean it, but it was my favourite room because I always felt the Master’s warm presence. The shelves were filled with little treasures from around the world. On his walls hung pictures of every man, woman, and child that worked for him, as well as some drawings given to him by the servant’s children. He hung them beside the works of art done by foreign artists and was more likely to take down one of these famed paintings so that he could put up another child’s masterpiece.
“Come take a seat.” He motioned to a comfortable chair in front of his desk.
I sat down on the edge of the chair and wondered, “What will he say when I ask? Will he refuse?”
I jumped when he said, “Would you like a chocolate, or some tea, or both?” He held out a box of exotic chocolates, each a work of art in their own right. “Oh, I couldn’t, they are all so beautiful…”
“Now, don’t be shy. I know you like chocolate. Please try one; they are very good. I recommend the sparrow shaped one. It is a very dark chocolate and with sweetened Chai tea it is particularly good.” I reach out my small rough hands and pick up the sparrow chocolate he suggested. The Master filled a beautiful porcelain cup with tea and after putting a bit of cream asked, “One lump or two?”
He placed the cup in front of me, “Please eat the chocolate before it melts in your hand.”
I was so caught up in my own thoughts I had forgotten the chocolate I was holding. Its beauty was already ruined by the warmth of my hand.
I popped the chocolate in my mouth and then regretted it. I had wanted to savour it. Now it was gone, but not before I tasted how truly wonderful it was. It just melted in my mouth, so rich and creamy, smooth like silk on my tongue. Without thinking I started to lick the last of the chocolate from my fingers.
The Master smiled and held out a napkin and the box of chocolates once more. “I am sorry. I should have made your tea first and then offered the chocolate. You should have another. Try the tiger one this time. It is also good.”
The tiger had gold paint on it. I couldn’t take something so valuable, so I picked up one shaped like a frog. The Master looked surprised by my choice and a little sad; I wondered why. The frog one tasted good, but not as good as the sparrow. The tea was delicious. The Master waited as I ate the chocolate and drank my tea. The atmosphere was so peaceful that I was soon at ease and settled further back in my chair.
After I had finished my chocolate and he had refilled my cup of tea, he asked me, “Have you enjoyed working for me?”
“Yes Master, very much.”
“Have you ever felt mistreated or unwanted?”
“No, never! I could never feel that way here!”
“Have I ever treated you with unkindness, or disrespect?”
“No! I have always felt that you treat me very well, better then I deserve.”
“Why do you feel I treat you better then you deserve? Don’t you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness?”
“Master, I am not skilled or talented like many of your servants. I am just a slave you bought out of pity.”
“Have I ever told you that was my reason? You have many talents and a great learning ability. You have sung in my halls many a night and have enchanted my guests as well as the other servants with you voice. Is that not a talent?”
“I only do as my master asks. My voice is not as good as others in your service.”
“Yet my halls would be lesser by its absence.”
“You are too kind, Master.”
“You have worked for seven years. Your debt to me has long ago been paid. Your time is up. You are free to go.” He placed a large velvet purse in front of me. “Here are your wages. I hope that this will help you start a new life.”
“Master, are you angry with me? Have I done something wrong that has caused you to dismiss me?”
“No. You have exceeded expectations. I only fear that you do not know your value, and might find it elsewhere. You should look in the bag and see your worth.”
I stood and opened the bag he had given me. Inside were many jewels, gold coins, and beautiful pieces of jewelry. I picked up an earring made of silver with a sapphire jewel hanging from it. “This is the wealth of kings! I am not worth this much.” I dropped the earring into the bag and thrust it across the table. “This is the first time you have been cruel. You make fun of me! I cannot accept this.”
The Master pushes the bag back towards me. “You are wrong. This is your worth. Your worth surpasses even what this bag holds. It would be impractical for me to give you your true worth, for you would not be able to carry it out of here. It is you who have trouble seeing your worth. I wish you to understand how much I have appreciated you and your work in this household. I am making no joke. I am very serious. This is just a token of how valuable you are and I am sorry to see you go. But it is the year of Jubilee and so all servants are to be let free. This is yours to do with as you like. Take it.” He entreats earnestly, closing the bag and placing it in my hand. Its weight is heavy in more ways than one.
“I do not understand…” I whisper.
“There are many things you don’t understand, but surely you understand you are free and may go where you please.”
“What if I don’t want to…” I say quietly, “Master, I want to stay.”
“Are you sure? Do you know what it means to stay?”
“Yes, you have been so kind and taught us all that you know of the Law and the Word. I would be your servant forever. There is no other master that would treat me so well. No other master would love me like you do and see me as valuable. I am loved here by the other members of the household and by you. Please let me stay.”
The Master picks up the box of chocolates. “Have another chocolate. Take the tiger one. I think you will like it.”
“Master, I do not understand…”
“Please, take a chocolate.”
I look at the box of chocolates. I don’t understand why the Master insists, nor why he desires that I take the tiger shaped chocolate, but this I do understand: this is a test and my choice will dictate his answer. I reach out my hand and pick up the chocolate he suggested. Slowly, I eat it, and it is by far the best chocolate I have ever tasted. “This is very good,” I exclaim.
“Do you understand now? I want to bless you and give you good gifts. If you feel this is the place you want to be for the rest of your life you can stay.”
“Thank you, Master!” My eyes filled with tears of happiness.
The Master takes the silver earring out of the bag and says, “Now, we must go outside.” I nod in understanding, I know what comes next.
Outside the Master proclaims loudly, “This woman has chosen to remain a servant in my household, of her own free will.” I stand beside the door post with my hair pulled to the side. David stands beside the Master, smiling. I smile back nervously as David marks a place at the top of my right ear. He then hands the Master a heated awl.
Taking the awl the Master asks me one last time, “With this you become my servant forever. Are you sure that you wish to do this?”
“Yes!” I proclaim loudly. The Master nods and then with one quick push, sticks the awl through my ear. The pain is sharp and I yelp. The Master quickly removes the awl and sticks the earring through my ear. It is done! I have promised to serve my Master forever and I am overcome with joy.
“Tonight we will have a celebration for all of those who have joined our family. Welcome, to my household, my daughter, my friend.”
By: Theresa Lazt