Seven Parables and Stories for the Week: Issue 23

Abba Macarius and the Devil

Abba Macarius was returning from a lake to his cell, carrying palm branches. He met a devil with a scythe. The devil tried to hit Macarius with the scythe but he failed. The devil said:
– You are so strong, Macarius. I can’t stand against you. I do all the things that you do. You fast, and I don’t eat anything at all; you refrain from sleep, and I don’t sleep at all. There is only one way in which you defeat me.
– What is that? – Macarius was curious.
– Humility, – the devil replied. – This is what makes you stronger than me.
“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility”  (Proverbs 15:33)

Killing Life

There was a terrible and bloodthirsty vizier in Constantinople whose favorite pastime was watching the executor cutheads in front of his palace. There was also a righteous fool-for-Christ andprophet, who was deeply revered by the people, on the streets of Constantinople. One morning, when the executor was beheading another convictand the vizier was looking at it, the fool-for-Christ stood in front of the vizier’s windows and started swinging a heavy iron hammer.

– What are you doing? – the vizier asked.
– I’m doing exactly the same that you are doing, – the fool-for-Christ replied.
– What do you mean? – the vizier inquired.
– It’s simple, – the fool-for-Christ responded. – I’m trying to kill wind with this hammer. You are trying to kill life with a sword. My efforts are in vain, just like yours. Vizier, you can’t kill life just like I can’t kill wind. The vizier quietly retreated into dark chambers of his palace. He did not allow any visits and did not eat or drink for three days. Three days later, the vizier gathered all his friends and announced,
– Indeed, the man of God is right. I was a fool. You cannot destroy life just like you can’t kill wind.

St Nikolaj of Serbia. Explanation of the Ten Commandments. The Sixth Commandment

A Hound and a Hare

An individual runs as long as he lives in an attempt to find Christ, and he never stops. While he runs, he feels joy rather than exhaustion.This is an example that I can provide for you to understand: when a good hound smells a hare, it does not stand still by a hunter’s side. It starts running and looking for the hare. It runs, then stops to smell the air, and then runs again. It cannot stand still. Its brain is busy looking for the hare. It does not stare at unrelated objects. It enjoys running more than standing still. Running and searching is its life.

This is the attitude that we must aim at. Our minds must strive for Christ constantly because He is our aim. Instead, although we know the way and know where to go in order to encounter Christ, we stand still and don’t move. If we hadn’t known the way, our inertia would have been justifiable.

St Paisius the Athonite. Homilies. Book V. Section Two. The Good Worry and Anxiety for the “Good Fight”. The Good Worry Never Ends.

Wonderful House

I know a wonderful, fully equipped house.It has a mill and a kitchen where warm meals are cooked day and night. That house has many passageways and corridors. Swift little servants carry the warm food to all the corners. There is a restless housekeeper in that house, too. Henever sleeps, even for a single minute. He sends the swift little servants to all the places where food, drinks, or heat are in demand. There is a large and well-ventilated dining hall in that house. There are two cute windows with blinds: the blinds open in the morning and shut in the evening. There is an invisible lady in that house. One cannot see her but it is she who manages all things and makes them move: it is for her that the little servants work, it is she who looks into the windows and opens and closes the blinds. As soon as the lady leaves the house, everything will stop: the housekeeper will stop beating, the servants will stop in their tracks, and the entire house will become quiet, empty, and cold. The blinds will shut, too. Where does the lady go? She goes back to where she had come from — to the heaven. She is but a guest on earth. The house will be demolished as soon as its landlady leaves.

Konstantin Ushinsky
The Thief’s Candle

(Parables about St Nicholas)
There was a poor man who decided to find a way to earn some money. The way that he chose wasn’t honest: he was stealing things from others or buying low-quality goods and reselling them on the market. He was very guileful and knew many tricks. Every time he did his thing, he would light up a candle in front of an icon of St Nicholas.

He lit up so many candles that literally no one else’s candles could be seen on the candle stand.

Rumors had it that Ipat (the man’s name) was so successful because St Nicholas always helped him. Ipat was also certain that all his success was thanks to St Nicholas.

One day, he grabbed some of his neighbor’s things and hurried away. Unluckily for him, the property owner saw it and started chasing him. Ipat was running and running… He ran out of the village and down the road because he was scared. All of a sudden, he bumped into an old man who looked like a beggar.

– Where are you running, Ipat?
– Oh please help me: don’t let them catch me. Hide me somewhere: if they come for me, they’ll kill me!
– Go and hide, – the old man said, – in that ditch over there.

Ipat jumped into the ditch, and saw a dead horse there. He hid under the horse, right inside its belly. People were running down the road, chasing
the thief, but they could not notice him: though the ditch wasn’t deep, the dead horse was huge from rotting. That was how they lost his track. Ipat crawled out of the dead horse. The old man was standing on the road.

– Hey, Ipat, did you like sitting in the horse’s corpse?
– You bet! I almost died of the stinky smell!
– Ah, that’s what you say! – the old man said sternly, – Do you think I enjoy your candles? Your candles stink like this dead horse!
And the old man went away.

Sergei Yesenin

The Lie. A Parable About Money for Children and Adults

Money decided to claim that it is divine. Why not? Everyone likes money, everyone worships it, and no one can live without it. It informed people about its new status and gave them plenty of wealth. People were happy.

One pious man asked:
— Alright, you can provide a lot of benefit during one’s life. And what happens next?
— I can do a lot even after one’s death – the money started explaining. – A lavish funeral, nice wreaths, and luxurious tombstones…
— Is that all?
— What else do you want? – the money was surprised.
Everyone saw that money is not a god!

Where Do Swamps Come From

A lake noticed that it was slowly but surely turning into a pond and begged with people:
— Please clean me up!
The people did not pay attention to its words:
— We’re fine with a pond, too!
The pond saw that it was slowly but surely turning into a swamp, and begged:
— Help me till it’s too late!
People didn’t pay attention again. Soon the former lake turned into a swamp.
People had to walk around it and sometimes fell in it (some people even died). They were outraged:
— Where do swamps come from?
We should add: That’s where swamps come from not only on earth but also in human souls!

Monk Barnabas(Sanin). Little Parables for Children and Adults