Thomas was quite the social and adventurous young boy. Because he was an only child, he spent much of his free time with cousins and friends, especially with group of five other boys, all of whom were within a year of Thomas’s age. Three of the five boys were cousins, sons of David’s siblings, and two were friends who lived close by.
This group of six boys were well-known throughout their community. For the most part, they were good boys. Their parents taught their families well, but they were still boys, trying to have some adventurous fun.
One day when Thomas was about ten years old, on a picture perfect late summer day, two of his cousins Elad and Aaron, and Thomas were playing with their rubber balls. They had completed their chores for the day and wanted to enjoy the cooling temperatures before the sun completely set.
The balls they played with were made of a type of rubber. Rubber artisans used rubber for various different purposes, including making toy balls for children and adults. The balls were light weight and came in various sizes. Most of the balls were a charcoal gray color, but colored dyes were added to some of the balls creating various colors. The process to add dyes to the rubber was extensive, so not many balls were colored. The balls were bouncy and could keep a young child entertained for quite a while.
Children used the rubber balls to play catch, to hit with sticks (somewhat similar to baseball), and some of the more rambunctious boys would play a type of dodge ball game, or just throw the balls at each other. Sometimes they would split up into two teams and play a type of war game. Depending on how hard a ball was thrown would depend on if one was hurt by the ball. Even the hardest thrown ball would usually only cause a minor bruise. The children, especially most of the boys, did not mind the occasional bruise; usually the entertainment they enjoyed out-weighed the slight pain of a bruise.
Older children and adults used the rubber balls for various games they created. One game they played was similar to basketball. The game was played outdoors on a large field. There were round hoops on each end of the field. Two teams competed against each other, trying to get the ball in their hoop. The hoops were vertical rather than horizontal.
While rambunctiously playing with the rubber balls, suddenly Thomas took the ball from Elad. Elad immediately began chasing Thomas. Being very quick and agile, Thomas sprinted away from Elad. However, Elad was almost as athletic as Thomas was, so could keep up with him. Thomas, knowing that Elad was close behind him, ran down stairs to an underground storage room where they stored food, especially food for the cold season. Normally, the door would be closed, but happened to be open at that moment. Aaron followed after them.
Elad was close behind. Thomas hid behind one of the large ceramic vases that just filled with summer grain about two weeks previous. The vase was about four feet tall and about 18 inches in diameter at its widest point. It was beautifully decorated with artwork of some of Mary’s favorite flowers. It was a large vase, with a tight lid, and held enough grain to last about one to two months of the cold season. Elad and Thomas circled around the large vase, somewhat careful not to disturb the other vases that held food while Aaron stood by, warning them to be careful around the storage vases. As Elad was about to grab Thomas, Thomas, trying to get away, tipped the large vase over. There was a big thud sound followed by the breaking of the ceramic vase. Grain and shards of pottery scattered everywhere.
Mary, hearing the crash, hurried down to the storage room to see what happened. As she entered the room, she saw the grain mixed with various sizes of ceramic shards and Thomas, Elad, and Aaron scurrying to pick up the shards. Thomas, seeing Mary, went to her, hugged her and told her how sorry he was for breaking the vase. He knew how important the vase was to her and especially how important the grain was to the family. He had even helped harvest the grain and put it in the vase.
Mary first asked if the boys were hurt in anyway. Then she proceeded to sternly remind them the importance of the grain for food during the cold season. She instructed them pick out all the shards, place them in a pile, put the grain into linen-type bags, and then find her when they thought they were done. Mary left the storage room, still feeling quite angry, but decided to leave the situation and let her anger abate.
There were so many shards! Thankfully, most of them were larger pieces that were easy to pick up. They struggled to find all the small pieces. Thomas did not want those in his food and his mother sternly told him to find and remove every single piece.
After about one hour, Mary went back to the storage room to see how they were doing. They looked quite down and discouraged as it took a lot of careful detail to separate the shards from the grain and it was getting dark as the sun was setting. That was hard work for 10-year old boys who would rather be playing and doing something else. With the help from their friends, they were more than half-way done. Mary brought in a couple of torch lights and spent some time helping them. In fact, she was able to get more done in about 15 minutes then the boys could get done in an hour.
Mary desperately wanted to lecture the boys, but decided against it. She felt that the tedious picking out all the shards from the grain would be a powerful lesson in and of itself.
After about another one-half hour, Mary supposed that most all the shards were picked out of the grain. They would need to be extra careful when they used that grain during the cold season to check for any remaining shards.
When Thomas returned to the house, David was there, returned from a long day at the woodshop and already had heard from Mary about the evening’s events. He informed Thomas that he would need to work to purchase a new vase. Thomas felt extremely discouraged as he knew that the vase was one of his mother’s favorites, that it was made especially for her, and was expensive. David reminded Thomas the importance of making amends for poor choices and purchasing a new vase for his mother would be the right thing to do.
Later that evening while David, Mary, and Thomas enjoyed family time, Elad and his parents came over to discuss the day’s incident. Elad, with the prompting of his parent, apologized to Mary and David for his part in breaking the vase and informed Thomas that he would help purchase a new vase. They discussed different ideas of what they could do to earn a fair exchange for a new vase.
The following day, Thomas, Elad, Mary, and Elad’s mother walked to the marketplace and found the pottery artisan, Pezi, from whom Mary purchased the original vase. Thomas sheepishly explained what happened to Pezi and that he needed to place an order for a new vase. With Mary filling in the details, he gave Pezi all the necessary information. Pezi, who was once a energetic boy like Thomas, told him and Elad that they could work in his workshop to help pay for the new vase. After hearing this news, they both excitedly looked at their mothers for approval. They were thrilled as the vendor was a favorite distant relative of theirs.
Mary and Elad’s mother told them that they could work for Pezi as long as they completed their daily and weekly chores. They arranged times that they would go and work with Pezi. Pezi could only smile at the young boys, remembering similar situations in his youth.
Thomas and Elad, and occasionally Aaron worked for Pezi for several weeks. They learned the fine art of pottery making and helped make the new vase for Mary. She actually loved the new vase more than the previous one as Thomas put some of his own love and energy into it and it taught the boys many life-long lessons.