Li Chen and the Plum Tree – a post-modern Parable
By Lauri Boyd, MDiv
Once upon a time, in the ancient land of China, there lived a man named Li Chen.
Li Chen lived in a beautiful orchard, and every day when he awoke, he would walk among the trees. When he found just the right tree for that day, he would lay down on his back under the tree and open his mouth, and the wind would blow, and the fruit of the tree would fall into his mouth. Li Chen would eat until he was full, and then go happily about his day.
One day, Li Chen woke up as usual, and walked among the trees as usual, and lay down and opened his mouth as usual. But the wind did not blow that day, and so no fruit fell into his mouth and Li Chen remained hungry.
The next day, the same thing happened. Li Chen lay down under a tree and opened his mouth, but the wind did not blow, and no fruit fell, and Li Chen got even hungrier.
On the third day, Li Chen arose after a sleepless night, his stomach gnawing with hunger. He thought to himself, “Surely today the wind will blow. The orchard has never failed to provide.”
He went outside and walked to his favorite plum tree. He lay down, and looked up at the fruit dangling over his head, and opened his mouth and waited. But the wind did not blow.
Li Chen was hungry and tired and frustrated – for he could see the fruit, but it would not fall. He began to weep, and he grew angry. He cursed the wind and the orchard and even the fruit.
After a time, he lay there too tired for anger or even weeping. And in his quietness, he finally asked, “What shall I do?”
At that moment, a girl entered the orchard and walked up to the tree under which Li Chen lay. She smiled at him compassionately, and reached up her hand and plucked a fruit, took a bite, and walked away.
At once, Li Chen understood. Filled with relief and joy, he arose, plucked a fruit, and began to eat.
What is your orchard – your source of all good?
Consider Li Chen’s many interactions with the orchard. Do you recognize any of them in yourself?
Who or what does the girl represent in your own consciousness?
There is an obvious lesson in this story. Do you see more subtle lessons?