The Parable of the Magic Sweater

Once upon a time, it was the custom of the land to give each newborn child a sweater. Every person in the child’s village played a part in making the sweater. Some fed and watched the sheep, some sheared. Some spun thread, some dyed it brilliant colors. And some, called weavers, whispered incantations as they knitted.

When a child reached a certain age, they were presented with their sweater. “It is a magic sweater,” the people said. “It has been carefully crafted to last forever. Once you put it on, you must never take it off or you will die.” And no one did.

But one day a woman noticed a loose thread poking out of her cuff. She pulled on the thread and to her surprise, her sleeve began to unravel. Soon, half her arm was exposed. The woman stopped in terror. “I don’t want to die,” she thought. At the same time, she remembered that her sweater was supposed to be indestructible.

She waited a while. Her arm seemed fine. So she pulled on the thread some more. By the end of the day, there was nothing left of her sweater but a pile of thread.

Freed of the sweater, she realized for the first time just how itchy it had been. By contrast, the evening air on her bare skin was unspeakably soft. What was twilight made of, she wondered, that it could be so soft?

People in the village noticed right away that she was naked. Some covered their eyes when they saw her. “You’re going to die!” they cried. Some speculated that the weavers must have missed an incantation, and offered to have a new sweater made for her. Others said she was a sorceress and must therefore die.

The woman laughed. “When you told me I would die if I removed my sweater, I didn’t know it was because you yourselves would kill me!” She fled from the village into the desert, and the people shook their heads because they believed she would come to a bad end. But the woman didn’t die. Not that day, nor the next. Day after day, she kept on not dying.

Instead, she spent a lot of time wandering and wondering about the sweaters, and why people wore them. She wondered about her skin, and what barrier yet remained between herself and All That Is. The questions filled her with wonder though she never discovered any answers.

But nights in the desert were often cold and she sometimes missed her sweater. It had been itchy but it had also been warm.







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