Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This is a story I wrote about fifteen years ago.

There once was a woman who had shackles around her legs and chains around her wrists.  She also had a ball and chain attached to each of her legs.  Furthermore, she lived in a jail cell.  The odd thing about this woman was not that she was so utterly restricted and confined, no indeed, the odd thing about this woman is that she didn’t seem to notice her predicament.  You see, she went on in life as if all this was ordinary and acceptable.  Which, as odd as it may seem to us, it was.  Ordinary in that this woman was surrounded by men and women who were similarly chained and confined.  Acceptable in that no one seemed to do much about getting out of the shackles, chains and jail cells.  In fact, they did just the opposite, instead of trying to get free, they heaped more chains upon themselves. 
In truth these people were trying to get free, but in fact they simply enslaved themselves more and more.  They tried to get free by having more money, but they simply became more enslaved by the need to have more money.  They tried to get free by buying more things with the money they were enslaved by, but they simply became more enslaved by the things they bought.  After all, they had to protect their money and possessions. 

A man came to their town one day and asked the woman why she had so many chains attached to her limbs.  She laughed and turned and walked away.  That night, however, she heard the rattle of chains when she turned on the security system in her house and again when she listened to the stock market report and again when she flipped through the new catalogue that came in the mail.

The next day she saw the man again and he just smiled at her.  She went home and listened again for the rattling of chains and heard them even louder that night as she looked in her closet and again when she read an online article about age wrinkles and again as she posted a comment on Facebook in response to a political article.  

The next day, she made a decision to simplify her life, to get rid of some of the things she didn’t really need.  She decided to give some of her clothes that she didn’t wear anymore to the local clothes closet and while she was at it she took some of the food in her extra pantry to a local soup kitchen.  Each place she went to and left she felt as if she were walking more freely.  The next week she dropped her family’s membership at the club they never went to and she traded in her car for one with fewer gadgets.  She decided to maintain her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but limit her use to only a few times a week.  

This continued for quite some time until one day she was walking down the street with a spring in her step and she turned the corner and came face to face with the man who had asked her about the chains on her limbs.  She smiled and he smiled back at her.  He said, “I see you’re getting rid of your chains.”  She smiled again, thinking she knew what he was talking about now.  “Are you happier?”  Yes, she said.  “Are you freer?”  Yes, she said.  “I imagine so, but are you free?”  This made her pause and think.  "I don’t know," she said.  That night she couldn’t sleep, the question kept going through her head “but are you free?”  In the morning, when she looked into the mirror in her bathroom, she knew she wasn’t.

That day she went to a local park and sat on the park bench and watched children playing.  She knew there was one last chain that she couldn’t seem to get free of.  It was around her heart.  She thought she was doing so well, but with her futile efforts to remove the final chain she wept.  Suddenly, the man was sitting on the bench with her.  He asked her why she was weeping.  And she said “You showed me that I had all these chains and at first I didn’t believe you.  But I began noticing them and slowly I was able to take them off, remove them.  But this last chain, I can’t seem to remove, so what’s the use?  Why be free from all the others and still be a slave to this one?" 
"Good question," said the man, "but a lot of people come this far and don’t get free of this last chain.  See those children?  Even they aren’t free of this last chain, but they know much better how to have it removed."
"How can I?  How can I get free of this one?"
"Just ask and I’ll take it off of you."
"That’s it?  That’s all I have to do?"
"Yes, that’s all you have to do.  But…"
There’s always a “but” isn’t there?
"But," said the man, "you’ll never be the same.  You can’t go back and you’ll have to help others get rid of their chains.  Can you do that?"
"Yes," she said firmly after hesitating, "but how?"
"With all these things you've given up--use them purposefully now instead of ways to make yourself feel happy."
"You mean all the stuff I was getting rid of or limiting aren't the chains?"
"Nope, just how you use them."  He paused and then said "One other thing."
"All of the chains, you’ve got to melt them down and make bells for the churches."
"The churches?"
"Yes, where else do you think church bells come from?  They’re made from the chains the people were freed from and now those chains ring glory and praise and thanksgiving, now those chains call people to worship the God who frees them from their chains."

"Christ has set us free to live a free live. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you."   Galatians 5:1  The Message

© Stephen Carl

1 comment:

  1. We need to live by our own words. Even years later after they were in our thoughts and placed on paper.