A Parable of the Lenten Journey

An ancient proverb is told of a servant whose duty was to draw water from the river at dawn when it was still mostly dark, and carry a bucket-full up a winding, rocky path to the mansion where his master lived. Alas! His bucket had a crack in it. And each time he brought water up the path he lost most of it.

Curiously, the servant noticed his master standing at the door of the mansion watching him every day carry this water up the path, spilling most of it. And yet, the servant was able to see a broad, loving smile on his master’s face. Daily, the servant would drop to his knees when he reached the top. At his master’s feet the servant would express his remorse at failing to do his job, bringing only half a bucket-full of water each time he climbed the path. The master listened lovingly, invited him inside for breakfast, and encouraged him to try again the next day. Which the servant did, faithfully, for the entire season.

When the river froze over, and the last half-bucket full was brought up the path, and once again the servant expressed his shame, sorrow and regret, the master invited him inside to share in a special feast to mark the end of the season and beginning of a new one. On the table spread with the finest breads, vegetables, cheeses and meats, he found bouquets of flowers of the most wondrous varieties and colors.

The servant gasped at the heavenly sight and asked his master, “From where did you find these beautiful flowers?”

“Come, follow me,” the master said, “and see for yourself.” The master led the servant back to the front door just as the sun was rising, illuminating the pathway down to the river. And on both sides of the path the flowers were growing, able to do so because of the water that had daily leaked out from the servant’s cracked bucket.

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