The Plowman – A Parable
The sun rose to cover the plains in a soft, golden light. The fields were carpeted in a thick prairie grass which danced gracefully in the breeze. The sky’s blue hue still held the purple tint of a fading night.
On a hill overlooking the fields stood a little brown cabin, its design was simple and sturdy. Its foundation had been built using a new construction technique, unique to history, the first of its kind. The brown tone of its wood was complimented by the golden brown grass of a neighboring field; this house was as much a part of the land as the prairie grass and golden rays of the sun.
The door swung open to reveal a young man. An old, though well-kept, pair of blue overalls over a scarlet shirt covered his proud posture. His white teeth shone in his smile. He greeted the outside world, and a gentle breeze surrounded him, welcoming him into it.
His attention turned to his field. Walking up to his plow, he took a moment to admire its design. It was a new model. Like the plows before it, it tilled the earth, yet this one didn’t require oxen to pull it. It could have been easily used by a child to till an entire acre of land.
“A technological wonder.” he thought.
He lifted the strap across his body and began to walk along the field until he arrived at the end of it. Lowering the blade, he began his trek across the outer edge. It was almost like magic. The earth parted with such ease beneath the blade, hundreds of pounds of dirt gave way, yet it was like taking a stroll to the marketplace.
“I’ll have this done in no time!” he smiled.
As he plowed the field, he heard a faint, weak voice ask him if he had the energy to fix a broken fence rail. He eagerly accepted the request, still elated over the progress he was making on his field. An ounce of energy left his body, no more than is required to take in a breath of air.
Another voice requested that he repair the school house’s leaky roof. He considered this for a moment and accepted. His body wavered as the energy left him; after a short burst of effort, he steadied himself.
As he continued plowing his field, chains began to form around his body. Small lead weights were attached to each link. His body sagged as they cut into his skin, blood trickled down his torso. He heard the voices urging him to work harder; they assured him the chains were for his own good and the common good. He didn’t quite believe it, but continued to work in spite of the extra weight.
Over time, his muscles grew; the once heavy lead weights became seemingly weightless. He became accustomed to the pain to the point of no longer feeling it, and his wounds started to heal as best they could. He wondered if he would have been able to continue if it weren’t for his new equipment. Likely not, he reasoned, and felt even more grateful for his plow. He knew he could finish his plowing in time to plant his crop.
He had just finished plowing when more chains materialized around his torso; he hit the ground, unprepared for the new weight. The stinging and pain returned manifold as old wounds were ripped open, blood spilling onto the earth. Still, the voices urged him on.
Unsteadily, gritting his teeth, he willed himself to his knees, then to his feet, and limped to his shed where he kept his seeds. He took the burlap sack in his arms and smiled, doing his best to ignore his aching muscles and torn skin.
“Just a little longer.” he assured himself.
He sowed the seeds in silence. The voices had quieted. He preferred their chatter to the silence; the silence made him think the voices were conspiring against him. And, right on cue, as if they had heard his thoughts, more chains dropped on his body. He endured them with a grunt; nothing would stop him from planting his crop.
By the time he had finished sowing his seeds, the skies had darkened; the last hues of blue were being pushed back by the onset of evening. He closed his eyes to rest. Hours passed, and the voices had gone. He imagined them fighting amongst themselves, dividing his potential crop among anyone and anything.
“Well, I won’t let them have it!” he resolved.
He was awoken by a faint rustling sound. It was the wind arcing itself around the leaves of the growths in his field. He rushed toward the newly grown produce, hoping to collect his reward before the voices returned.
He quickly gathered the matured crop. He held them in his arms as a father would have held his children. Only a moment passed before the chains tightened. He held the harvest to his aching torso, unwilling to let go. He peered down onto what was his. The fruit became discolored. It began to dry and crack. Bits of fruit became dust until they had all broken apart in his arms, the dust scattering into the wind.
Tears streamed down his face, as he held what dust remained in his hands. He didn’t move. His body was numb; he slumped to the ground. The voices returned to utter more words, yet these weren’t the words of encouragement he had heard earlier, these voices vilified him. They called him selfish, greedy, uncaring, and heartless.
The voices chattered that he wasn’t good enough for the ideal. He wasn’t good enough, strong enough, moral enough to bear their burdens and demands. The fault wasn’t in the chains that had broken him, it was his for not being strong enough to bear them.
Other voices joined in the chatter. These voices queried as to why he had fallen. They asked why he couldn’t continue, why he was still lying on the ground. They thought he could work forever, that he could bear any weight and any demand given to him. They reasoned that he was just lazy or that he didn’t care. These voices joined the others that chastised him.
Maybe they were right. He didn’t care, not any longer. He lied on the ground, feeling death’s cool touch caress his body. The moment before death was to take him, he felt a tingling warmth race up his body, and it was enough to shock him awake. He jolted to his knees and relaxed on the back of his ankles. What was this new strength and from where did it come?
Immediately, the realization struck him.
It was the promise his life had had at the beginning of it. It was the thought of what could have been, of what he could have been, and what he could still be. The only question that remained in his mind was: Why had he forgotten this?
The voices returned once again, this time with renewed vigor, they urged him to get up, to work, to produce, to contribute.
The voices, he thought. The voices are weak, feeble, and almost unreal. It only took one word to silence them. He looked down to observe the chains which still clung tightly to his body. It took only one word to break them. He said it again and again and again. The chains and weights shattered, link by link, they fell to the ground, and crumbled into dust.
“These weak things weighed me down?” he asked incredulously.
The chains had been broken by the utterance of a single word: No. It was a simple word, yet its power could liberate him of any demand, and lift any burden laid upon him.
He rose to his feet and looked toward the horizon.
In the sky, on the earth, and in his mind were written the words: Nova Era.
He greeted the morning sun with a smile.