Archive for December, 2014

A Parable of Christmas: 23 December

December 23, 2014

Once, in parallel universe, there was a signpost, a signpost like no-one has ever seen before or since. Tall and firm, big enough to be seen for half a mile. It was carved and moulded and painted wonderful colours, red and green and silver and gold. Some said it looked rather Eastern, others thought it was Celtic. It was amazing.

People were so happy to have a signpost. They didn’t have to muddle through wondering where they were going. They had a signpost. They didn’t have to worry that they were all on their own. They had a signpost, which someone, somewhere must have given for their benefit. They didn’t have to worry about other people. The signpost was not hidden, it was open for all to see. It was a signpost for everyone.

Everyone celebrated the signpost. Once a year people came together to remember the signpost. They gathered at the darkest time of year, when people were wondering what lay round the corner. They put up copies of the signpost in their homes and sand special songs, had special sweets which they shared around, and families came together to eat a special meal.

Adults loved this Signpost Time. Children loved this Signpost Time. One little girl, Andreya, all dressed up for the special meal was so excited, but also a little puzzled. She had been awake really early because it was such a special day. She remembered previous years and how lovely it was to all be together over a great meal in a specially decorated house. But she had a question which kept niggling away in her head.

Just as the meal was coming to an end Andreya’s father turned to her, in front of everyone. ‘You’ve been a little quiet,’ he said. ‘Do you have anything on your mind?’ The girl was bit embarrassed, she didn’t think anyone had noticed. Now she had to speak in front of everyone. But the question had grown and grown inside her and she had to speak it out.

‘You know this,’ Andreya said, waving her hand over the table and the room. ‘This is, like, all about a signpost, right? And it’s great, it really is. It’s, like, magic. But..’ she hesitated a little. ‘Where is the signpost pointing to? Isn’t that, like, what signposts are for? To point us somewhere? So… where is it? Not the signpost, the place the signpost is pointing to?’

Around the table there was silence. Andreya’s father laughed. ‘Trust you to come out with the deep questions! That’s one you can ask your teachers at school. Who’s having coffee?’

A couple of weeks later Andreya managed to see her school teacher on her own, and she asked her the question. ‘Well,’ said the teacher, taking a deep breath. ‘Well, some people think that’s an important question and they have read the signpost and they’re trying to go in that direction. But most people don’t think that’s really the thing. Most people think it’s really all about signposts in general, or directions in general. Maybe about having the humility to be given directions, or about all of us finding the direction that suits us. You see? 

Andreya nodded, because the teacher actually looked a bit worried. But it didn’t make sense. People didn’t celebrate all sorts of different signposts, it was one particular signpost. And signposts don’t say ‘Go in the direction that suits you.’ That’s just silly! Surely the signpost was pointing somewhere particular. It was more likely that it was pointing somewhere which didn’t suit people. They were happier going in directions that suited them. Or maybe they just weren’t interested or bothered.

Then Andreya remembered what the teacher had said about some people who thought her question was an important question. They had even read the signpost, and were trying to go in that direction. It was great to hear that. The girl decided to keep an eye out for these people who were not just celebrating the signpost, but actually going where it was pointing.

Roger Harper