By Mary Ann Hughes
I was four years old when my mother was hospitalized due to complications from a pregnancy.
We lived in Indianapolis at the time, and my father drove me to faraway Milwaukee so my Aunt Sally could take care of me.
I was terrified by the experience, and never more so than in the evenings when it was my bedtime. My aunt would tuck me in on a small cot and then leave me in the darkness. I cried and cried in that little bed, overwhelmed with the sadness of it all.
My tears dried right up when my cousin Colleen opened the door and climbed into her bed. She was 18 months older than I was, and I thought she was wonderful. We would talk together in hushed tones, sharing secrets as young girls do.
Probably 30 minutes later, my cousin Mary Claire would arrive. She was a worldly four years older than me, and she came not to sleep but to entertain.
As Colleen and I snuggled into our beds, the nightly ritual began.
My cousin Mary probably had one of the most creative minds of anyone that I knew as a child, and during those evenings it was on display. She would tell us stories that were so captivating and interesting that all of our cares and worries just faded away.
My days in Milwaukee with my aunt and my cousins were wonderful; they were filled with joy and laughter.
Mary helped me through the dark nights.
We are kind of in dark nights right now, aren’t we?
Our worries certainly are different than they were a year ago. I think we need stories to comfort us.
Thanks be to God, we have the parables.
We know that Jesus used parables to teach lessons to His followers. The wonder of them is that they are pertinent today.
My favorites are the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.
Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan after being asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” His answer was simple: Love God and love your neighbor.
And then He explained just who exactly a neighbor is, encouraging the questioner to share of his time and treasure.
The parable of the Prodigal Son has three main characters, and as mature Christians, we are invited to identify with each of them, but perhaps the most with the loving Father.
The lessons of the parables are clear. They were clear during His time, and they are clear today, in our time.