The Parable of Francis

Once there was a great farm. It began small, but its harvests were great, and it grew large. In time the harvests fed the nearby villages and the far-off towns and cities. The farm prospered, passing on its ways to each new generation.

After many years an elderly farmer called a council of the farm’s tenants. They agreed that the world had changed over time, so too ought the farm. It was decided that the old tools that had long been used would be replaced with new tools, and that these would increase the harvests. This they wrote into a plan and set to work according to the plan.

But there were those who were wary of the new tools. These saw that the old tools had always produced bountiful harvests and they continued to use them. And these reaped great harvests from small fields.

And among those who used only the new tools they saw their harvests begin to dwindle. Yet they scorned those who preferred the old tools.

In later years the farm passed to a wise old farmer. And loving all his children he decreed that the old tools and the new tools were equally welcome. He explained that the new tools had not destroyed the old tools. The new tools were modeled upon the old, and used properly, both could benefit the farm. In time, many servants discovered the old tools, and used them well.

But the farm passed to an unjust farmer, who had two sons. He favored his elder son, who used new tools, over the younger son, who had discovered the old tools and preferred them.

The elder son worked hard, but his harvests were small. He tried to make his own tools, ignoring the plan, but his harvests did not improve. But he saw that his younger brother did great work with old tools and he complained, “Father, they that use the old tools ignore the new. My servants may begin to prefer the old.”

And the father bade his younger son to use the new tools and lay the old tools aside. But he resisted, for the old tools helped him bring in great harvests. And the father grew angry and admonished. “Do you deny that I am your father? Do you deny that this is my farm and that the farm has a plan? Submit to your elder brother and take up the new tools!”

But the younger brother cried out in anguish, “Father, why do you love my brother more than I? Do I not bring in bountiful harvests? Have I not loved you as much as he? I do not deny that you are my father. This is your farm. Your farm has a plan. But I cannot bring in a harvest with the new tools, any more than I could reap bushels of wheat from fields sown with salt. I love you, but I cannot.”

And his father shunned him. “Go ye out to the wildlands. Use your old tools if you will. Till up the rocks and try to raise crops among the roots and the weeds.”

The younger brother shed bitter tears. He took the old tools and went out to the farthest borders of the farm and there he and his planted among the hard and barren earth and yet brought forth good harvests.

And the elder brother came to control the farm, and he still created more new tools, but his harvests diminished. And the father was greatly saddened. Because the farm grew smaller and it no longer fed the far-off towns and cities.

The Parable of Francis
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