The Sword: A Parable about Becoming Yourself
Once upon a time, a baby was born. He was not just any baby; this child was special. He was born with a beautiful, silver sword.
The sword started out, like the child, very small. It gleamed with possibility. The child admired its shimmery sheen. He played with it and shined it and learned, in a rudimentary way, to swing it this way and that. The child took great delight in his silver sword and knew that he would one day use it for great things. Perhaps he would grow up to be a mighty warrior! The sword was a part of him.
Now the child’s parents didn’t have swords, nor had they ever seen a child with one. The sword made his parents nervous. They were embarrassed and intimidated by this gleaming weapon that they knew nothing about. And they were concerned about their son’s safety and growing attachment to it.
When it came time for the child to enter preschool, his parents advised him, “Now that you’re going to school, it would be best if you put your sword away. Keep it tucked under your clothes, or better yet leave it home, and whatever you do, do not use it in the classroom. You’ll scare your teacher and possibly hurt your classmates!”
Crushed, the boy did as he was told and dutifully kept his sword hidden away. It was like this during all his growing up years. His parents, frightened and confused by the silver sword, continually reminded him to keep it tucked away so that no one would get hurt. “You could even hurt yourself with that thing!” they warned him.
Over the years, he grew to despise and resent the sword. ‘What a burden to have to always hide that thing!’ he thought. ‘What a pain! Why was I even born with it? I wish I could be like someone else. Someone without a stupid sword!’ He angrily put the sword in a box, placed the box as far back in his closet as he could, and forgot about it.
Many years later, at his first job, his new employer asked the young man to take a weapons assessment. As he glanced over the questions, his face grew hot and his palms grew sweaty. There were questions about swords on this assessment! His heart pounded anxiously.
‘Oh no!’ he thought, as he remembered his dusty old sword, hidden away in his closet. ‘They are going to find out about my sword.’ Heart pounding, he tried to answer the questions as vaguely as he could. ‘Maybe they won’t discover my sword. I hate being labeled as the Sword Guy,’ his mind raced. ‘I don’t want to live my life in that box.’
When his employer looked over his responses, however, he was visibly shocked.
“You… have a SWORD?!” his boss exclaimed. “Oh my goodness!”
“Yes,” replied the young man sheepishly. “I was hoping you wouldn’t discover that. But don’t worry! I have kept it hidden in the back of my closet for many years, and I never use it. I never even think about it anymore! It won’t be a problem – for you or me or anyone else. I know it’s scary and dangerous.”
His boss stared at him in disbelief for a full minute. He finally said, “Son, what are you talking about?! Why have you kept it hidden away? Who told you it was scary and dangerous?! That sword of yours is a powerful battle weapon, capable of many things! You can slay giants with that sword. You can ward off enemies and protect people with it. Don’t you know how valuable that is? Silver swords are a rare gift! Bring it out immediately! Bring it here! We must shine it up and get you skilled at using it right away.”
The young man was stunned. All these years he had been told that his sword was dangerous and scary and potentially harmful, and because he didn’t want to hurt anyone, he kept it locked away since childhood. Now, for the first time, someone was telling him that his sword was good — a gift, a blessing, something to be used with skill and grace, something that could make things better and not worse. In that moment, his view of himself shifted. In that moment, he saw himself not as a scary and potentially dangerous person, but as the warrior he had always been destined to become.
But in order to become that warrior, he needed his powerful weapon back.
With renewed strength and confidence, the young man went home, dug into the back of his closet, and pulled the silver sword out of the darkness. Happy memories of childhood sword games came flooding back. His eyes welled with tears as he touched its smooth surface. Rays of sunshine bounced off its long, sturdy blade. It was like being reunited with an old friend. For the first time since his childhood, he saw the sword as good. He polished it and tucked it into its sleeve and left for work, determined to fulfill his destiny. The sword was, once again, a part of him.
Soon, he was the most skillful swordsman in the land and became a mighty warrior, protecting the people from danger and slaying beasts of all kinds. The silver sword never left his side.
© 2017 Michele Kus, M.A.