Monday, November 19, 2012

Acorns and Oak Trees

Yesterday's post - "Birth Pangs"- was an edited manuscript of most of the sermon I preached yesterday at St. Francis Church. I began that sermon, however, with a parable that seemed to strike a chord with many who heard it.

The story comes from Jacob Needleman, a philosophy professor at San Francisco State University. It comes from his book Lost Christianity and is reprinted here for those interested:

Once upon a time, in a not-so far-away land, there was a kingdom of acorns, nestled at the foot of a grand old oak tree.  Since the citizens of this kingdom were modern, fully westernized acorns, they went about their business with purposeful energy; and since they were midlife, baby-boomer acorns, they engaged in a lot of self-help courses.  There were seminars called “Getting All You Can out of Your Shell.”  There were woundedness and recovery groups for acorns who had been bruised in their original fall from the tree.  There were spas for oiling and polishing those shells and various acornopathic therapies to enhance longevity and well-being.

One day in the midst of this kingdom there suddenly appeared a knotty little stranger, apparently dropped “out of the blue” by a passing bird.  He was capless and dirty, making an immediate negative impression on his fellow acorns.  And crouched beneath the oak tree, he stammered out a wild tale.  Pointing upward at the tree, he said. “We … are … that!”

Delusional thinking, obviously, the other acorns concluded, but one of them continued to engage him in conversation: “So tell us, how would we become that tree?”

“Well,” said he, pointing downward, “it has something to do with going into the ground … and cracking open the shell.”

“Insane,” they responded. “Totally morbid!  Why, then we wouldn’t be acorns anymore.”

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