“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.” Matthew 13:34
Using parables to teach life lessons has been a long and ancient tradition. We find it in Greek and Roman story telling, ancient Jewish writings, in the teachings of Jesus, in Rabbinical stories, and in Eastern Zen Buddhist tales, just to name a few. Many contemplative teachers have used parables over the years to teach lessons that are both essential and difficult to grasp. The gifts of parables are many. For one, they shift us just enough out of our usual frame of reference that we are able to see ourselves through a new lens. Second, though related to the first, parables are simply stories and can thus be disarming. They put us into a different state of mind, and in doing so, have the ability to sneak under our well placed defenses in order to get a necessary point across. Third, parables, like all metaphors, can teach lessons at multiple levels, and invite new discoveries with each re-reading.
Over the past seven half years of leading this Order and teaching contemplative spirituality, I have been asked questions that I could only illustrate through parables. As our Order has grown and had to deal with the natural growing pains of any intentional community, parables have come to mind that have most poignantly illustrated the growing edges of individuals and the community that need to be addressed at times.
At this year’s Convocation, we reflected on a series of parables that I had put together over the years which fostered some wonderful conversation and growth. As the primary mission of our Order has always been to offer resources for the renewal of contemplative formation in the greater Church, I’m happy to be able to share these parables here. Whether you are in formation on your own, in a community, or just part of a parish, each of these may speak to you in your own life journey, wherever that may be. God’s Peace.
Silentio Coram Deo,