Power of Parable

I am a big fan of Henri Nouwen for his aunthentic spiritual presence in the world, his writings, and his focus on community. lt was a blessing to attend an excellent webinar series hosted by Spiritual Directors International called Living the Questions— Henri Nouwen & Spiritual Companionship. The knowledgeable presenters opened each of the four sessions with a parable, and that inspired me to write this article to submit to SDI for publication. I was pumped that they chose to include it in their most recent SDI Connections newsletter!

Fresh out of the SDI webinar series on Henri Nouwen, I am preparing a workshop on prayer for a youth event. Ideas are sprouting abundantly, but if I am honest, most are probably too heady and academic for a gaggle of teens on a Friday night. I choose to pause for ten minutes of centering prayer. As I allow my fluttering thoughts to alight in the silence, I imagine myself resting in a divine embrace. As I return to my project, the direction is clear: use a parable.

Parables have been used by countless great spiritual teachers: Henri Nouwen, Jesus, Rumi. They are found across faiths and cultures throughout history. A parable is a metaphorical story, always pointing to something beyond itself.

Here are the 5 powers of parables, as I see them:

#1 Connect head and heart

Henri Nouwen is classically known for being a deep thinker yet powerfully able to connect at the heart level. I think a parable is similar -- it provides a meeting place for our analytical minds and our affective hearts.

“To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you.” (Theophan the Recluse)

#2 Use the material to illuminate the mysterious

The imagination can be a powerful doorway to the soul and a helpful tool in prayer…

…Continue reading this article by clicking here and scrolling to page 10 of Spiritual Directors International’s online newsletter called Connections.

jess andrews