Are You a Giant? Or a Burden?

by | Jun 2, 1999 | Unity

Jewish poet and storyteller Noah ben Shea tells this parable:

After dinner, the children turned to Jacob and asked if he would tell them a story. “A story about what?” Asked Jacob.

“About a giant,” squealed the children.

Jacob smiled, leaned against the warm stones at the side of the fireplace, and his voice turned softly inward.

“Once there was a boy who asked his father to take him to see the great parade that passed through the village. The father, remembering the parade from when he was a boy, quickly agreed, and the next morning the boy and his father set out together.

“As they approached the parade route, people started to push in from all sides, and the crowd grew thick. When the people along the way became almost a wall; the father lifted his son and placed him on his shoulders.

“Soon the parade began and as it passed, the boy kept telling his father how wonderful it was and how spectacular were the colors and images. The boy, in fact, grew so prideful of what he saw that he mocked those who saw less saying, even to his father, ‘If only you could see what I see.'”

“But,” said Jacob staring straight in the faces of the children, “what the boy did not look at was why he could see. What the boy forgot was that once his father, too, could see.”

Then as if he had finished the story, Jacob stopped speaking.

“Is that it?” Said a disappointed girl. “We thought you were going to tell us a story about a giant.”

“But I did,” said Jacob. “I told you a story about a boy who could have been a giant.”

“How?” Squealed the children.

“A giant,” said Jacob, “is anyone who remembers we are all sitting on someone else’s shoulders.”

“And what does it make us if we don’t remember?” Asked the boy.

“A burden,” answered Jacob.

We all have been richly blessed by those who have gone before us. As a family member, I recognize that I have grandparents and parents who through much sacrifice and effort have given me the opportunity to do things that they couldn’t even dream of doing. As a citizen of the United States, I owe a great debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives for the freedoms I am able to enjoy. And as a Christian, I look back on so many others (both in recent years and in biblical times) who laid a foundation of faith that gives me the encouragement to draw closer to God myself. I pray that I will never forget that I am sitting on someone else’s shoulders.

” And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy…..Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 11:35b-38a;12:1).

Are you a giant……or a burden?

Alan Smith


Are You a Giant? Or a Burden?