New York City native Megan McKenna is an author, theologian, and lecturer. In 2002 she was appointed an Ambassador of Peace by the Catholic organization Pax Christi. Her more than thirty books, which include Send My Roots Rain, The New Stations of the Cross, and We Live Inside a Story, focus on the role of storytelling in the world’s spiritual traditions. The following is excerpted from Parables: The Arrows of God, by Megan McKenna. Copyright © 1994 by Megan McKenna. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York. All rights reserved.
There was a woman who wanted peace in the world and peace in her heart and all sorts of good things, but she was very frustrated. The world seemed to be falling apart. She would read the papers and get depressed. One day she decided to go shopping, and she went into a mall and picked a store at random. She walked in and was surprised to see Jesus behind the counter. She knew it was Jesus, because he looked just like the images she’d seen on holy cards and devotional pictures. She looked again and again at him, and finally she got up her nerve and asked, “Excuse me, are you Jesus?”
“Do you work here?”
“No,” Jesus said, “I own the store.”
“Oh, what do you sell in here?”
“Oh, just about anything!”
“Yeah, anything you want. What do you want?”
She said, “I don’t know.”
“Well,” Jesus said, “feel free, walk up and down the aisles, make a list, see what it is you want, and then come back and we’ll see what we can do for you.”
She did just that, walked up and down the aisles. There was peace on earth, no more war, no hunger or poverty, peace in families, no more drugs, harmony, clean air, careful use of resources. She wrote furiously. By the time she got back to the counter, she had a long list. Jesus took the list, skimmed through it, looked up at her, and smiled. “No problem.” And then he bent down behind the counter and picked out all sorts of things, stood up, and laid out some packets.
She asked, “What are these?”
Jesus replied, “Seed packets. This is a catalog store.”
She said, “You mean I don’t get the finished product?”
“No, this is a place of dreams. You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds. You plant the seeds. You go home and nurture them and help them to grow, and someone else reaps the benefits.”
“Oh,” she said. And she left the store without buying anything.