It was supposed to be easy. There was no need for rucksack, water bottle or map. It was just an afternoon hike, an hour at most. Of course, it was hot, nearly a hundred degrees. But it would only be an hour. Besides it was a beautiful day with a clear sky and plenty of wildflowers. It was a perfect day to be outdoors but when the hour turned to two and then three; when there was no end to the trail in sight, then it wasn’t perfect. It was terrifying.
Until the day that I was lost, I had always been a lucky hiker and as hubris is as hubris does, I took for granted that all hikes would always be easy and end well. But that day, I experienced something different. That day I was lost. After being lost, I now bring a map and a water bottle and a rucksack. I admire a beautiful landscape but know it can change in an instant. I respect nature but know it doesn’t exist for my entertainment.
Or course; if we live long enough, we have been all been lost. In the Seeing Issue of Parabola Magazine, there is a wonderful story called Nomad Girl, told by Barbara Helen Berger, about a traveler who is lost and then found by the Bodhisattva of compassion, Tara. In the story, the bodhisattva nurses the traveler back to health and the traveler is changed in the process. I liked the story so much that I created a lesson which is posted on the Parabola in the Classroom page.
Being lost is a common theme in many of the great stories of the great faiths. Of course, there are many ways to be lost. We can be emotionally lost, physically lost, or even psychically lost. When Arjuna approaches the battlefield and sees his kinsmen arrayed against him, he is lost. When Siddhartha finds the existence of suffering, he is lost. And when the Hebrews are enslaved by a merciless pharaoh, they are lost. On this first night of Passover, it is worth remembering the enormity of being lost and the gratefulness of being found.
I have always believed that the great stories of the great faiths are the collective canon of humanity. I have always believed that every man, woman, and child should have access to the canon and its wisdom traditions. Indeed, to make sense of the world we live in; we must know the stories that shape us. Through knowledge of the stories, we begin to understand the lens through which humanity sees and experiences the world.
In the world of the sound bite, it is easy to lose the glow of the storyteller’s fire. Stories like waves on the beach grow and move and crest. They demand our attention like a jealous lover. But like a jealous lover, they can give us a depth of connection that a superficial telling simply cannot. In every issue of Parabola magazine, the reader is given a portal to the great stories of the great traditions, a key to opening the canon of the collective story of humanity. For not one perspective but many perspectives, not one story but many and not one voice but many are shared around the flames of Parabola’s fire.
We have always been a species of storytellers and we have always needed to share our stories, to give life to the tales that long to be heard. Tonight on the first night of Passover, a great story will be shared, a story that has kept hope alive through the ages. In the pages of Parabola magazine, the great stories are lovingly preserved and shared for all tables for all times.
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