The book How To Be An Explorer of the World led me to start with the activity suggested on page 30—to collect items on a walk. The first few times I went around the neighborhood, all I found was a leaf and an empty acorn shell. I live in a housing addition that is well-kept with little trash.
A few days later I found several note-worthy items that I stuffed into my pocket. When I arrived home, I examined the ‘gems’ – a yellow candy wrapper, a red bottle cap, a rusty ‘S’-shaped chain, a rubber band and a wrapper from Walgreen’s for adhesive bandages.
I added to my collection a note I found in the locker to which I was assigned at the Jordan Y, and a listing of Christmas hymns on a piece of paper I found in a library book. On the back side of the paper were the dates for Advent, beginning in late November.
All of a sudden the box that held my finds was filled with items that offered more questions than the leaf and acorns. I knew where these two came from, but everything else tapped my inquisitive imagination. For example, when I looked at the candy wrapper, I wondered what type of sweet the paper held. How did it taste – sweet or sour? Who ate the candy? When and where was it purchased?
The listing of Christmas carols on the slip of paper from the library book as well as the dates for Advent made me wonder if the person who wrote this information was a church choir director or a pastor. I could contact him, as his name is printed on the front, but I like letting my imagination wonder what the dates and hymns mean.
I wondered what liquid the bottle cap topped and who drank it. Why did someone need an adhesive wrap? Who wore the wrap – a child or an adult?
All of this reflection made me remember how Jesus used common objects to tell stories and teach.
How Jesus Used Common Objects
Jesus taught using parables or stories using metaphors – a comparison to something in the kingdom using like or as: The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl, or the kingdom of heaven is like yeast.
Perhaps over a series of days Jesus collected a few objects that he saw in the homes where he stayed or along the path he walked. He decided to use these objects to teach about the kingdom, giving them an additional meaning or purpose from what people saw.
Jesus compared the kingdom of God to weeds, a mustard seed, yeast, a pearl and a net, offering meaning beyond what is seen.
My Box of Parables
Compared to the box of objects I found, those that came from nature offered no reflection or questions for me, but the other items spewed forth with questions.
Let’s look again – I found an acorn and a leaf. Reflecting like Jesus, I could say, The kingdom of God is like an acorn waiting to provide nourishment for a squirrel. God nourishes our souls when we read God’s word, hear stories about God at work in people’s lives, and as we feel God’s presence. Or, The kingdom of God is like a leaf that brings beauty in the fall.
Looking at the other objects that are really trash and litter, what could they teach about God? Is there a parable in each one?
The kingdom of God is like
……..an empty candy wrapper, ready to embrace a soul in protective care or show how God wants to embrace each of God’s children in love;
……a bandage that wraps around a wound allowing healing, just as God wraps us in arms of protection and care, to heal us when we hurt;
….a chain, as words and actions link us to someone else making his way through the day;
….a listing of dates and hymns for Advent where the celebration of Christ’s birth is outlined and planned;
…… a rubber band that keeps stretching to include new people in God’s kingdom.
If I take time to dig deeper, I discover parables or at least a short lesson about the nature of God in the items found while I walked.
For your reflection:
1. Take a walk, picking up several items you find. Which ones stimulate questions? Which ones offer quick answers?
2. How can you link God’s kingdom to what you found, making a parable for each one?
Prayer: Jesus found common objects to teach about the kingdom and invite believers to look and see spiritual truths. Guide our paths each day, and open our eyes to learn about you from objects and relationships we encounter. Amen.