The Power of Parables

Want some Good News after a hard week? Me, too.

I’m launching a new virtual retreat, and you’re the first to know about it!

Parable: A Retreat on Change will come to you in the comfort of your home on Sept. 23-26. Here’s the scoop…

My parents have an irresistible toy at their home: a colorful sphere made of interlocking plastic parts. When you toss it in the air, it expands to five times its size. 

Among all the amusements my parents have kept stashed away for young visitors, this ball is perennially fascinating. I’ve wound up in the playroom at countless family parties only to watch parents pick up the ball and play with it themselves, expanding and contracting with their hands like a whimsical accordion. 

Turns out the toy is called a Hoberman sphere. Odds are good you’ve seen one, too.

Chuck Hoberman, the Harvard professor who created the famous sphere, works with principles of “transformable design.” He wanted to create objects that could transform themselves as clouds change shape in the sky, using only a push or pull for energy. 

The Hoberman sphere is like a parable. When you examine it from a distance, it appears to be static, simple, and solitary: one thing. 

But when you toss it into the air, when you let movement enter the equation, when air expands the space between, everything changes—size, shape, color, and form. 

You are now looking at something completely different. 

The wisdom—indeed the sheer brilliance—of Jesus’ parables is that they are designed to transform. They grow in meaning across cultures and centuries. They change within our own lives, too. 

Far from simple children’s stories, parables are powerful paradoxes of truth. They are meant to hold mystery, not one single meaning. They are created to expand and become something bigger than we expected. They invite us to marvel and compel us to look twice at what our hands can hold.

This is why I want to spend a whole retreat praying with the parables, with you.

I dreamt up this retreat last year as I finished the first level of formation in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Together with my fellow catechists, I often shared how transformative this training had been, coming a close second to the three years I spent in full time theological study.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd introduces the young child to the parables in ways that are not simplistic or saccharine, but invite deep theological pondering. I felt my skin tingle when I first experienced this parable method, my heart burning, my mind aflame—choose the metaphor, they all sparked to life within me a desire to share this approach with adults, too. 

(So while this retreat is not affiliated in any way with CGSUSA, it is inspired by this method’s wisdom and owes every debt of gratitude to the teachers who taught me.)

I also felt drawn to offer a retreat on change. Who among us hasn’t felt their life carved by change over the past two years? The pandemic has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, and it’s not done yet. Change hangs heavy in the air right now.

September is a perfect time to pray about transitions, as we shift seasons and many of us enter into a new school year that shapes our life and work. Back-to-school can feel like a second New Year’s; we’re ready to reinvent everything with enthusiasm. 

Exactly when we need a pause to re-center in God—and what better way than starting with a retreat?

The Parable Retreat will explore 5 parables over 4 days (Sept. 23-26). The shortest stories, but they pack a punch. We will place Jesus’ powerful storytelling in conversation with the changes that have shaped our own lives: whether positive or negative, personal or professional, collective or individual, past or present or future. 

We’ll pray and ponder together, asking God how we are called to change and grow in response to Jesus’ parables and the stories of our lives.

The Parable Retreat will launch to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 31. But for you, it’s live right now! Click here to learn more.

I hope you’ll join us, to let the parables transform you, too.



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