Wedding Parable of the Grandfather Clock

Here’s a parable I wrote for a wedding homily. -JB

Once there was a newly wed couple who only weeks after their wedding day inherited their grandfather’s beautiful old house in the country. Overflowing joy filled the old house on the day they moved in to begin their new life together. To their great surprise, they discovered in the attic left a magnificent hand carved old grandfather clock of enormous value and beauty. They were certain that this clock was to be a treasure they would cherish together forever.

What they did not yet realize was that this grandfather clock was a very complex machine comprised of endless knobs and switches and levers and other finely tuned mechanisms that all needed to be in working order for the clock to perform as designed.

It wasn’t more than a couple weeks until they were rudely awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of uncontrollable gonging and clanging and ringing. The newly weds grow impatient with the situation, began yelling and screaming, and pushing every button and pulling every lever trying anything to get the clock to be quiet and work properly.  Eventually the noise stopped and all was calm again.

After a few similar episodes with the malfunctioning clock, the newlyweds asked grandma if she could help figure the old grandfather clock out. “Oh, yes,” grandma answered, “The original instruction manual for the clock is hidden inside the back of the clock and will help you get it working properly.”

The newlyweds were thrilled at this discovery and went away relieved and determined to read the old book cover to cover to learn everything about the old clock. But the old manual was intimidatingly long and hard to understand at points. Life got busy and soon the manual began collecting dust on a shelf.

Still the old clock grew more and more obnoxious, and the noisy uncontrollable gonging episides happened more and more frequently. The newly weds grew more frustrated and irritable as each month went by in their new house. They argued about what to do with the old clock, how best to fix it, whether it was even worth the bother. They even even began to wonder if they should just give up on it and have it hauled away. But deep inside they both knew that the clock was still a rare, priceless collectible that would be a tragedy to throw away. So they kept it around just hoping, by some miracle, the clock would somehow fix itself.

After another sleepless night of clanging and gonging, and yelling and shouting about it, the not-so-newly wed young couple again sought advice from grandma. “Well, did you read the manual,” grandma asked. They sheepishly admitted that they hadn’t opened the manual for months. “Well, then,” grandma thought shooking her head, “I guess if you’re not going to bother reading the owner’s manual, then there’s one more thing you could try.  It just so happens that the famous clockmaker who designed it is still alive and lives just across town. He made the clock himsef; so if anyone can help you, it’s him.”

The young couple was very relieved and excited to know they could go directly to the maker himself and get help with the old clock. They left grandma with new resolve to at last get the clock in working order.

But life just got busier and busier. Each day they had good intentions to call on the clockmaker and seek his help. But something always seemed to come up at the last minute. So, they kept putting it off. Meanwhile, the old clock grew more and more unbearable by the day, and the couple grew more and more frustrated with each other because of it.

The quiet, peaceful house they had moved into as newlyweds had by now become a place of noise and disharmony. The rare and priceless grandfather clock the couple had so treasured at first had slowly become a source of deep frustration and bitterness for the couple. So, one day in a fit of mutual anger and despair, the young couple finally threw their hands up in resignation. They put the old house up for sale, packed their things and decided they had to move on.

A year or so later, on a cool, sunny August afternoon a moving truck pulled up the driveway of the old house. Another young newlywed couple danced excitedly into their new home to begin their married life together. To their great surprise they found hidden in the back of the attic a magnificent handcrafted old grandfather clock of enormous value and beauty. They were certain that this clock would be a treasure they would cherish together forever. Beside it on the floor was an old book covered in dust with a note attached to the cover with the clockmaker’s phone number and the words: “Call anytime for help.” 

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