You can over-extend a metaphor. Take the whole thing about variety being the spice of life. Well of course it is. But which spice? Is it cinnamon, which goes well with all sorts of things, but eventually seems a bit bland? Or is it chilli, which really adds some zing, but can easily become overpowering? You see? I’ve over-extended the metaphor.
Now, of course, when I start speaking about God as my heavenly Father, we’re on safer ground. Perhaps. One assumes that it was he who decided whether I got a heavenly X-chromosome or a heavenly Y-chromosome, but didn’t bring me to spiritual birth, as that’s a mother’s job; that he taught me to ride a spiritual bike without stabilizers, but has never done my heavenly laundry because he can never remember whether blue should go in a whites wash or a dark wash. There I go again. Over-extending metaphors.
Of course, the reason I bring up this whole dreary mess is that, in the little story I’m about to embark upon, there is some degree of interchangeability of what might be deemed the role of “Father” and “Mother”. Much as is the case in the examples above…
Elías can walk. He’s more a fan of “cruising” around, holding onto furniture (or legs) but now and again he will raise his hands in the air and, with a look of triumph, totter the five or six steps to the arms of mum and dad.
Of course, some jobs still require a good honest crawl, as was the case when we were on holiday last week in what they laughably refer to as a “caravan”*. Because when you’re treasure-hunting, you have to crawl. There are yesterday’s cornflakes to be discovered (and eaten); sea-shells to be discovered (and tested for edibility). And one morning, there was the underside of Oliver’s bed.
He wormed his way under, and we were able to track his progress by a series of delighted cooing noises at each new discovery. Finally, he emerged holding his two greatest treasures. The look of elation on his face was truly something to behold, as he held aloft a hairband and a sock.
He pulled himself to his feet, raised his hands in the air, and confidently began to walk towards mummy with his treasures to present. First one step; then another; then, disaster! He lost his footing and went tumbling to the ground.
Immediately the tears started and his arms stretched out for mummy as he howled at the misery and injustice of it all. And as mummy reached down and picked him up, he let go of his treasures, allowing them to fall away, to just be in mummy’s arms.
He made the smart choice: When I feel the ground vanish beneath my feet, and begin to howl at the misery and injustice of life, I wonder how often I just cling to my treasures. I wonder how often I forget to simply let my treasures go, and allow my heavenly Father pick me up and hold me.
© 2010 Paul Brownnutt
* I’ve lived in proper rented accommodation with less space
[Originally Published 18th April 2010]