We would all agree that life is complicated; sometimes self-imposed, other times from other people. Much of life’s complication is our lack of preserving the three most important elements in our lives. We need to be reminded of them, to clutch and to value them.
Am I talking about spiritual elements just because I’m a priest? They are indeed spiritual. They are the beans, the golden egg and the harp. That’s right, “Jack and the Beanstalk” is a biblical story not found in the Bible. This aged-old fable becomes the fiber and muscle of our endeavors and of our lives.
It is believing in the power of transformation that takes on a shape and form in our lives. And then believing and accepting that, allowing ourselves these three wishes.
The Magic Bean: We can only trade in life what we have to trade; in other words you need to have something before you can give or trade it away. If you have nothing to trade then you must rob or take from others. The magic beans are given to Jack to build his life. From those magic beans comes a beanstalk that is as high as the sky (“The sky’s the limit!”).
The American bishops today remind me of those people who have nothing to trade because they have no beanstalk of their own. They rely on the Catholic Church’s “beanstalk” to become their own beanstalk. It doesn’t work that way. An institution cannot replace an individual’s personal homework.
It is only authentic if you find and claim it for yourself. You cannot climb someone else’s beanstalk. (Bishop/Church, husband/wife). You can only climb your own.
This magic bean creates a stalk for us. Bear in mind that throughout our lives there will always be those people who want to cut down our stalk, or reshape it into an image similar to their own, or just simply ignore it (as though our stalk doesn’t matter). But it is our stalk created from our magic beans that created it and it is ours to value and possess for a lifetime.
From this stalk, we are able to grasp the other two wishes.
The Harp: It represents the creative and energetic powers within us. If anyone dwindles them, then a slow death or depression occurs. We simply cannot live without that energy that propels us out of bed in the morning, throughout our day and into our relationships. It is the harp that is full of its music that harmonizes us to each other. It is a gift that represents our uniqueness and person hood in this world.
The Golden Egg: It represents the context from which our life is lived; marriage, priesthood, city employee, teacher, whatever place we allow ourselves to be placed.
It’s interesting to note that the harp and egg are both stolen in our biblical fable. They are not freely distributed, they are not handed to you on a platter or inside a cereal box, (and no government can give you what you don’t already possess), they are not provided in life’s scheme, they are not a given.
By being stolen, we are choosing them for ourselves and then making them our own. We are claiming that they rightfully belong to us and we transform them to be an integral part of our lives. (Wasn’t “salvation” stolen for us by the sacrifice of Jesus?)
From these gifts we carve out our position and hold that position in life, with all of our lives. Interestingly, do you remember how the magic beans are obtained? From the cow that was sold. The cow that gives milk (mother!). We need to sell our mothers (become independent) in order to become persons with magic powers. We slowly become persons who can transform this cruel and divided world with our magic beans, harps and eggs.