The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell it to the Israelites as a parable. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders.
“‘He took one of the seedlings of the land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.
“‘But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.’
“Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?’”
- Ezekiel 17:1-10
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
- Mark 4:1-9
I have been skimming through Iron John: A Book about Men by Robert Bly. I have read the book before, the first time the same year the book came out. Although there are few images that I remember about Grimm fairy tale that the book is based upon, I remember what the author said about the father-son relationship and how that was deteriorating in our present age. Maybe more so now than then, published in 1990. That year, I worked at a top-secret nuclear facility, leaving that site, and going to a NASA project near the end of that year.
What Bly was saying is that in olden times, the son worked in the field with the father. He saw the fruits of his labors. He learned how to do the job properly and he saw the pride in the father for having worked hard and having a job well done. Yet, these days, some children never are allowed to see their father work. Ouch. I had worked at that plant for nearly ten years. My sons knew what my job title was. They knew the stress that I was under. They saw how many days I would stare at the television, not really seeing the television program, because something was bothering me, something from work. They learned that when you went to work, you drove many miles away to a place where people guarded the gates. You worked until you had no more energy left to play in the backyard. You came home so stressed that there was little to no joy in life. Frankly, I volunteered to be a cubmaster in scouting to have an outlet based on nothing but “FUN.” And that was just to survive. I identified so much with what Bly had written.
No wonder the counterculture of the 60s exploded as it did. The children saw their working parents walk around like zombies after getting home from work. They learned “No way do I want to do that!”
The illustrations in the Scriptures above worked in biblical times because the people of that day saw the crops being grown, even if their job was not growing crops. Do children today even know that tomatoes grow on vines? Do they know that a tomato is a fruit? I am sure that some children do not know where their food comes from.
I thinking it is important to grow something, even a flower in a flowerpot, just to understand the process. Besides, the plant will breath in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.
I wonder what lessons we are teaching the next generation by what we do not say about our work. In my case, I could not say under penalty of law.
I guess the other big lesson I learned from my first reading of Iron John: A Book about Men was that the concept of ceremonial rites for a child to become a man, rites of passage, are not done in most social groups anymore. In short, the child never knows when they have arrived. In that regard, my mind runs from old man to young adult to child and back again, nearly every day. When something starts to hurt, it goes to old man in a flash, but the rest of the time, I never think of myself in such terms, the proverbial child that never grew up.
God will sort all that out. But the answers that I have found that keep me going are those that I have learned in Scripture. Bible reading and prayer are important in knowing what we need to know, and what we need to pass along to the next generation.
Whether we are adults or children, it makes no difference. The question is, Are you a child of God?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.