Real Faith for a Real Life in a Real World.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Parable

Long ago, some people went in search of a place to live, somewhere they would be happy and blessed.

One day, they came across a river. The flow of the river was strong, and it brought fresh, clean, pure water that was good to drink. The river teemed with fish that were good to eat. The land beside the river was fertile and productive. ‘This is a good place,’ their leader said, ‘Let’s live here where we will have everything we need.’

And everyone agreed.

Some went back to where they had come from to tell others what they had found, and how good it was. Many more came to join them by the river, where they too found happiness and blessing.

As the years passed, they discovered that the flow of the river varied with the seasons but always there was enough to eat and enough to drink. Sometimes the river flooded the fields and swept away things they had built. The people learned they did not really need the things they lost, and that the river, on shrinking back to its course, left the land more fertile and more productive.

The years rolled on, and the people grew tired of the disruption the river brought, preferring instead a settled, predictable way of life. ‘If only we could control the flow,’ one of them said.

‘We should build a dam,’ the leader said. ‘Then a lake will form that will regulate the flow; we’ll barely notice it at all in the lake. There will still be plenty of fish and plenty of water for our needs. The lake will be calm and peaceful, and we can sail on it and swim in it without fear of being caught up by the current.’

And everyone agreed.

The lake was beautiful, and reflected in its calm surface the trees and mountains surrounding it. The current hardly disturbed the lake-dwellers’ lives any more, even in spring when the river above the lake became swollen with the melted snows of winter. Everyone was content and at ease, and they built all manner of interesting things—which were no longer swept away as they used to be.

Other people lived downstream, beyond the dam. They were not happy. The flow was not as strong as before, and they could not irrigate their land properly. The fish were not as plentiful, and in the height of summer there was almost no water at all. They became disillusioned with life by the river and went to look elsewhere for what they needed. They had no time for the people above the dam, who guarded jealously what they had, making it difficult for outsiders to move into the spaces around the shore.

More years passed. The leaders entertained the lake-dwellers with exciting stories of long ago when the river ran strong and many more people lived gratefully along its banks. They all looked fondly over their lovely, familiar surroundings even as they listened. ‘It’s so restful here,’ one of them said, ‘I hope it never changes.’

And everyone agreed.