The Parable of the Quill and the Inkwell


I remember growing up as a kid, my parents bought us those precious Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless story:  Atop a poet’s desk was a Quill Pen and an Inkwell arguing amongst themselves on who was the greater instrument. “All the deep feelings, the humor, the vivid descriptions of nature that was reflected in poems came from me, from the ink that I hold inside me.” the Inkwell said. Pointing at the Quill Pen he continued, “You won’t be able to fill a page without me.” With this the Quill Pen made his case, “Without me, all that would be on paper would be black patches of ink. I am the instrument that gives structure on the words and immortalizes it on paper.” They argued until they got tired and eventually retired for the night.

Looking at this scenario in its entirety, we will be able to see that both the Pen and the Inkwell are correct. Correct in the sense that they DO have different gifts that they can offer for the poet’s work, but can they claim that one is better than the other? If there is truly one who is more superior between them, then what? What benefit would come about from that claim? It is not surprising to know that this scenario DOES happen in real life.

There are gifts that lie within each and every one of us. Presents that the Almighty Father has bestowed upon us. Unique qualities that set us apart from the rest and like any gift, we have the freedom to do what we want with it. We can choose to cultivate, develop and allow it to flourish or to squander it. We may prefer to use them for self-gain as resources that can be utilized to conquer the struggles of the earth or an offering one may consciously give for the heavenly call of the Lord’s kingdom. As moments in this fleeting life passes us by, it may be interesting to stop and reflect on how we are using these gifts. It gives us insight on what truly matters. On the things that we hold dear. Because in OUR perception of things that TRULY MATTER, that is where we focus our time, our attention and our gifts.

It is also the ingredient that makes people diverse, as our unique gifts allows us access to resources and talents that some people may not have. There are times as well when these can be a source of contentions and bickerings, regardless of its context. The usual question that causes this contention is “Who’s got the better gifts?”.  It is not impossible to believe that this question and thought may have been a cause of strain in many relationships. It is because of this question’s capability to narrow down one’s vision in focusing on what a single individual will able to do instead of seeing the bigger picture of what a collaborating group may be able to accomplish.

In narrowing down their perspective to an individual level, the Pen and the Inkwell missed to see the message of the big picture. They missed to see that although they had incredible gifts within them; all the beauty, the deep feelings, the vivid descriptions of nature, the humor, the structure of words immortalized in paper did not come from either of them. All of that, came from the hand that guided them. The poet, he was the one who breathed life to their unique gifts. This is what we can find if we see the big picture, that regardless of how big you think your gift is, all glory and all honor belongs to the Master. The hand that guides the instruments. The source of all gifts. It is in HIM that our gifts and ultimately our lives find purpose and meaning.