Recently at our monthly Not Church gathering our theme was the parable of the jewel hidden in the robe. If you have not read or heard the parable, you really should before proceeding and you can find a link to it here.
During the gathering that particular Sunday, the parable was read three different times, by three different readers, each reading spread throughout the rest of the morning’s activities.
There was quite a stir after – why three times? Was the big question. Why did we read it three times?
Some assumed that each of the three readings would have a different telling of the story. But, alas, all three readings were the same story, the parable of the jewel hidden in the robe.
The topic came up again last night, more than a week after our gathering, at a dinner with some friends. “Why was the parable read three times?” again was the entry point into the conversation, which unfolded from there.
For though we read the parable three times in our gathering, there was never any direct teaching from it, upon it, about it, or regarding it. The rest of the ‘sermon’ for the day came from a re-telling of the movie version of the Life of Pi, woven together with a discussion of the recently confirmed discovery of the Higgs Boson particle. The written version of the sermon can be found here, for those who were not present to hear it.
“I believe that the parable means that God is planted within all of us (the jewel) and we have only to look within, rather than to search so many outward paths, to find that, to realize that, to experience that,” the conversation continued as I listened. “So why didn’t you just say that?” was the question begged.
Why not tell people this amazing, beautiful and life changing truth – that what you are seeking out there is to be found in here, that that which is inside of you doing the seeking, is, in a very real sense, already that which is sought. The answer is to go within, to awaken to this ‘jewel’ that already is. “So why didn’t you just say that?” hung in the air as the conversation unfolded. I listened.
It is a good question. A valid question. A worthwhile question.
Which, in response, brings me to a question of my own – Why didn’t the rich man in the parable tell his friend he was leaving him with the jewel?
“Because the friend was inebriated, passed out,” you answer. The rich man could not tell him – it was impossible.
Okay then – why did he not leave a note? “Hey, by the way, when you wake up, check your hem – I left something for you.” Or, better yet, why didn’t he just put the jewel in the man’s hand, so that when he woke up he would find it right there? Why ‘bury’ it within his hem?
It would have been so much easier! It would have saved the man so much undue suffering – he would not have found himself in such want, in such need. In fact, it seems almost wrong that he did not leave the gift in a more obvious way – what is the point of such a precious gift, if the receiver doesn’t even know that he has it? It is a waste, isn’t it? Would it have been so hard to leave a simple note?
But there was no note. The inebriated man woke up, found his friend gone, and went on his way, blind to that which he had, clueless to the reality of the precious gift which he now carried with him – unaware of the seed that had been planted.
It was now up to him to look within and discover that it was there all along.