A Parable: the Baker Who Learned

An original story by Sara Lewis, all rights reserved.

Please feel free to use this story as part of a worship service or lesson, with attribution to me as author.

Old Finn had been a baker for a very long time. He had learned to bake when he was quite young, taught by the elders who were also bakers. They taught Finn how to mix and work the dough, how to build a fire under the big ovens that was just right to hold the temperature, and then to use the fire to bake the delicious breads and other baked goods. Finn practiced and learned, and then one day the older bakers clapped him on the back and said “you’ve learned it, you are a baker now”. And Finn was very proud to have mastered his craft. He had learned all he needed to know.

Finn was a very good baker, and kept on baking just as he had learned for years and years. But then the people of his land got a new technology, something he had not grown up with or learned to use when he was young. This new technology baked without needing a fire, which just seemed wrong to Finn. That wasn’t what he had learned, and well, he was too old to learn anything new now. So he kept on as he had been. But now fewer and fewer people came to him for baked goods, seeming to prefer the new ways. Some of the younger bakers invited him to join them, even offered to teach him how they were doing things now, but he said no, he was fine just doing it the old way, even if he was left doing it all alone.

And he did end up mostly alone, not sure why he was still bothering to bake at all. But being a baker was who he was, his identity, he couldn’t just stop, couldn’t give up on something he loved so much. 

Then one day, there was a terrible storm, and the whole area lost power. The technology that the other bakers used wasn’t working, and so they couldn’t bake. But Finn could still carry on, with his old ways. As he was building his fire, he heard a voice, strange when he hardly ever had folks in his bakery anymore. “Excuse me” the voice said, and Finn turned to see a young baker, one of the ones who had once invited Finn to come and see how their new ovens worked. 

“What do you want?” Finn asked.

“Well”, said the young baker, “I don’t know if you’ve heard but we’ve got a big power outage and none of us can get our baked goods made right now. But people need to eat, you know, so I expect they will be coming to get their bread from you. I thought, well, you’re here all alone, it may be a lot of work. And, well, it would be fun to learn how to bake this way, if you want to teach me. Then I can help, and if this happens again I’ll be able to bake both ways in the future.”

Finn just stared at the young baker, for a long time, and then he nodded a bit curtly and said “Alright then, let’s get to it.”

He was a bit cranky, still, but he showed the young baker how to build the fire. They made a few mistakes, but were still cheerful when Finn pointed them out. And they were right, lots of folks came for baked goods that day, and they had to work hard to feed everyone. A few other young bakers showed up, curious to see how it worked, and when they saw that Finn was teaching they jumped in to learn and help also. 

At the end of the day, all the young bakers were tired but happy. They thanked Finn, and one said “any day that you learn something new is a good day!” as they left.

Finn looked around his bakery, marveling at how different today had been from all his recent days. It had felt good to be with the young bakers, and they had been so cheerful and enthusiastic about learning to bake Finn’s way. 

It would be sweet to be part of a baking community again. He could teach, like he had today. And, thinking about what the young baker had said as he left, Finn realized that he could learn, too. Maybe, he hadn’t learned everything there was to know when he was young. Maybe it would be nice to keep learning. Maybe he could even learn that blasted new technology they were all using now adays.

And from then on, Finn was part of a baking group again. He learned how to do things in new ways, and he taught others how to do things in the old ways. And Finn came to agree that indeed – any day that you learn something new is a good day. And he had many good days until the very end of his life.

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