The Parable of the Hole

Man Sitting In ValleyThis story is not original to me.  My brother shared it with me years ago and someone shared it with him before that. As such, it’s been through several variations.  I think it first originated from Alcoholics Anonymous but I’m not real sure. It definitely fits addiction and recovery but also has broader applications.  It’s a modern-day parable and, as with all parables, the ultimate meaning and application belongs to the reader.

There was once a man walking through a dark area and he fell into a deep hole.  He struggled and struggled to find a way out but couldn’t.  Finally, in despair he sat down and buried his head in his hands.  

Before long he heard footsteps above and called out.  They stopped and walked to the edge.  They immediately begin to lecture him from the top of the hole.  Told him about the dangers of walking through dark areas and the foolishness of falling into holes you can’t get out of and how he should always avoid both.  And they walked on.

What they said was true, but the man was still in the hole.

Shortly afterward, he heard more footsteps above and called out.  They also stopped and walked to the edge.  There was a look of compassion on their face and they told him that his problem was primarily a spiritual one.  They threw down a Bible and recommended some verses to read.  Then they told him they would be praying and suggested he do the same.  And they walked on.

What they said was true, but the man was still in the hole.

A little while later he heard more footsteps but this time he didn’t bother calling out. They stopped anyway and walked to the edge.  They didn’t lecture or offer spiritual advice, they did something even more drastic–they jumped in the hole with him.  He leaped to his feet and said, “What are you doing?! Now there’s two of us stuck in this hole.”

“No,” the other man replied.  “I’ve been here before and I know the way out.”  

So both men climbed out of the hole together.