People underestimate the power of a good story. As I stood there before the king, detesting the smell of my own body, disguised as someone who had lost all care for her life, I could see him recoil. Yet it wasn’t so much from the odour. Oh no. You see, I knew the king liked a good tale and I was following in the footsteps of that wise and wry prophet Nathan.
Nathan: A man who had loads of sheep stole an animal from a man who had only one.
The king: What! That’s appalling. The man should be punished.
Nathan: Good thinking! Have you got a mirror? Cause I’d take a good long look at yourself.
You see, the king in his irrepressible desire for justice didn’t twig he was the man who’d stolen from others. Till Nathan lobbed a parable his way. That’s the thing about parables, they invite you in, to find yourself. So here I am, standing in front of the king, all flies and stale body, telling him how I’d lost one of my sons and how others were now telling me I should lose the other one.
Me: My son killed his brother. And now my family demand that the killer should be killed. But he’s my only remaining son, and I’ve lost my husband too, so who’ll care for me? Who’ll continue the family line?
And there it is again, his irrepressible sense of justice.
The king: Let your son live, and if you get any aggro from anyone, send them to me!
The king: Of course. I swear I’ll protect him and you.
Me: Hmm. Odd that. Because your own son is estranged from you and the people need him around. So how come you won’t bring him back? God does what he can to draw people close when they wander away from him. We only have one life. Let’s not waste it, as if we’re throwing good water on the ground.
The king: You haven’t really lost your son, have you?
Me: No, but you have. And you don’t have to keep it that way.
You see, that’s why the king recoiled. Slapped round the cheeks with the truth as if it was a wet fish. That’s twice now that a good tale has brought reality to the king. Stories can change your world. No doubt about it. And I’m off for a good long soak.
2 Samuel 14