Friday, January 13, 2012


I just got asked for help with the Parables. It was a nice request, so I'm responding here. I'm worried about giving a complete answer. The joy of a parable is the discovery by the reader for herself (himself) of the hidden meanings. I rob you when I take away the discovery from you. Someone asked for some help, and I'm willing to give a few things. You really need to discover for yourself because the exercise is important. It unlocks the scriptures, also. This is the language of the Lord. He gives us parables far more often than we're willing to consider.

For "A Busy Young Man" ask yourself:

Why "busy?" What does it imply? How are "the cares of this world" and "business" connected? What does it mean to be laden with business here? Don't we respect this kind of thing? Aren't we looking to elect someone who understands business to be our next US President, because the current one doesn't do enough to keep us busy in a profitable way?

Why "young man" rather than an elderly one? What is it about relative youth that makes a person more open to consider something new? Can anyone be a "young man" even if they are a child? Elderly? What was Christ at 12 when visiting the Temple? Was He a child or a "young man" at the time? Do the words convey something apart from age itself?

What does it mean to be "on his way?" What do we mean when we say someone is "on their way" to the top? If a person is "really on their way" is that economic? Political? Is there a worldliness about the phrase? Why?

When someone is "sitting" what is implied? Why would the person sitting be "beside the road" rather than on it? The road is for movement, and getting somewhere. But here is someone beside the road, almost as if they were rejecting it. Why? Does sitting make them at rest? But here is someone both sitting and busy in their own small way. Why?

What does a tree symbolize? Why would the one sitting be under the tree? How do the images of sitting and being under the tree combine to present an identity for the one there? When we think of a person meditating, where would we expect to find them in relation to nature? In relation to a tree?

Why were there three days in the initial transition? Then why years? Then cycles of seven years? Then enlightenment? Why did the identity, once it was discovered, no longer result in any requests, demands or inquiries? Why was there only contentment?

The tediousness of the activity, and the narrow confinement to the hands of the one who left the road to help the man under the tree suggests something deeply personal and within the grasp of any person. Why is that? Why would the activity be so little, so narrow, possible for anyone with hands to accomplish?

Think about the descriptions of the hands of both the Busy Young Man and the Master. Words convey messages about the person, and the hands are where these individual's souls are on display.

Think of the braiding, and how that conveys an image. How are lives "braided" as they are lived? To whom are you "braided" as you go through your own life? Why? What little things are repeated day-by-day to braid you together with your immediate peers?

Well, this could go on for many pages. But already I'm cheating you. You don't need me, you have the parables.

I like parables. You can accomplish so much with so few words, and you can put so much on display for someone with the eyes to see it.

I'd say the parables are the best writing form to be used if there could only be a single form. Interestingly, they seem to have attracted little attention, except for a handful of quite exceptional people I've encountered. Most people are far more interested in volume and scope, rather than the still, quite intensity possible by meditating on a parable. Too busy. They think they can get further on their way by amassing a great volume of material, rather than pausing to think deeply, sitting beside the way, on short tales containing hidden wisdom. They're probably right. Most people will get a lot more of life's business done if they stay on the road they've already chosen.