Parables: from "Godzone : A Travellers Guide by Mike Riddell

   "A certain man decided that life was too hard for him to bear. He did not commit suicide. Instead, he bought a large corrugated iron tank, and furnished it simply with a few essentials-a bed to sleep on, books to read, and even a large crucifix on the wall to remind him of God and help him to pray. There he lived a blameless life without interruption from the world. But there was one great hardship.

   Morning and evening, without fail, volleys of bullets would rip through the walls of his tank. He learnt to lie on the floor to avoid being shot. Nevertheless, he did at times sustain wounds, and the walls were pierced with many holes that let in the wind and the daylight, and some water when the weather was bad. He plugged up the holes. He cursed the unknown marksman. But the police, when he appealed to them, were unhelpful, and there was little he could do about it on his own.

   By degrees he began to use the bullet holes for a positive purpose. He would gaze out through one hole or another, and watch the people passing, the children flying kites, the lovers making love, the clouds in the sky, the wind in the trees, and the birds that came to feed on the grass. He would forget himself in observing these things.

   The day came when the tank rusted and finally fell to pieces. He walked out of it with great regret. There was a man with a gun standing outside. " I suppose you will kill me now", said the man who had come out of the tank. "But before you do, I would like to know one thing. Why have you been persecuting me? Why are you my enemy, when I have never done you any harm?"

   The other man laid down his gun and smiled at him. "I am not your enemy," he said. And the man who had come out of the tank saw that there were scars on the other man's hands and feet, and these scars were shining like the sun."

2

   "A great explorer once returned to her people. They were eager to know all about her adventures, and in particular about the mighty Amazon which she had travelled. But how could she speak of the feelings which had flooded her heart when she saw exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the forests; when she sensed the danger of the wild beasts or paddled her canoe over treacherous rapids? She said to the people "go and find out for yourselves." To guide them she drew a map of the river.

   They pounced on the map. They framed it in their town hall. They made copies of it for themselves. They studied it night and day and became experts in interpreting the river. They knew its every turn and bend, they knew how broad it was, how deep, where the rapids and the waterfalls were. And yet not one of them ever left the village to see the river for themselves."

3

   "There was once a teacher of great faith and insight. Several disciples gathered round him to learn from his wisdom. It so happened that each time the small community met in prayer, the cat would come in and distract them. The teacher ordered the cat tied whenever the community prayed. Eventually the great one died, but the cat continued to be tied up at worship time. When the cat died, another cat was bought to make sure that the teacher's wishes were still faithfully observed. Centuries passed, and learned treatises were written by scholarly disciples on the liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed....."


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