The Parable of the Too Small House

with pillowsWalking Pettigrew this afternoon I took delight in the jaunty curve of his tail and its white tip that bobbed to and fro. His coat is glossy, his stomach appears to have healed, and we are even thinking he can get back to licking pots in the next week. Life is good.

It reminded me of an old parable.

An impoverished family, growing too large for their home consults the village elder. What should they do? He counsels them to invite their chickens into their house. They leave dumbfounded, but do as he says.

The next week they return. Life is worse. The chickens are underfoot. There is no place to sit. What should they do? Bring their cow inside, says the wise man. Although they are questioning his advice, they do it.

The following week they return. It’s impossible to move around the house, they tell the wise man. The chickens are underfoot and the cow blocks the doorways, they are living in a nightmare. So the wise man tells them to bring their horse inside.

This continues until the house is bursting, filled with the family and all the animals.

But then, the wise man tells them to put the chickens back outside. They family returns the next week. They tell him that things are so much better. They can now sit in a chair without fearing they will squash a chicken.

And so it goes, with each week the wise man telling them to put some animals back in the barn.

When all the animals are outside, the family returns. Oh wise man, thank you so much for your help, our house is so quiet, I can think again. It smells so much better. I can move around so freely, they tell him.

Just as in the parable, I feel that things are so much better with Pettigrew. No longer do I have to wash his feet every time I take him for a walk. I don’t check the house in the mornings to see if he was incontinent overnight. We’ve stopped feeding him rice and chicken and the ease that comes with serving dry dog food is almost overwhelming. Life is sweet.

7 thoughts on “The Parable of the Too Small House

  1. I tried to write a message “above the line” but couldn’t.

    1) I’m so glad that Pettigrew is on the mend, for him and for you. 2) You’ve written my favorite parable in a charming and clear way, something I struggle to do whenever I tell the story. YOu’re good!

    Love, Mom


  2. Your comment posted just fine, so even if you weren’t “above the line” you clearly got the right spot after all! Didn’t know it was one of your favorite parables! Maybe that’s why I know it so well. I actually had another blog post queued up to go this week, but watching Pettigrew’s jaunty tail on our afternoon walk, I was overcome with happiness and appreciative how far we’ve come. The parable sprang to mind; it seemed so timely.


  3. Hi Ruth,     My version of that folk tale occurred when I was walking in the mountains with Max, the dog I truly loved.  He took off and I assumed he’d be at the car when I got back. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there.  I called and called but couldn’t find him anywhere.  Eventually, I had to leave because Jeff would be home soon.  Jeff insisted that we go back and look for Max, and made me stop and ask each car we encountered whether they had seen Max. Amazingly, someone told us his brother had found Max and tied him up near his car.  We found the car, and recovered Max.  He was very close to where I had parked, but was out of sight in a dip. The dummy must have heard me calling but didn’t think of barking to let me know where he was.      For the rest of that day and all of the next day I was incredibly happy.  I was simply back at my status quo, but I was euphoric!      I’m really enjoying your blog.                       Love,                            Elaine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elaine, So glad the post resonated with you! That sounds like a truly frightening time. It’s great you and Max were reunited. We had something similar where a friend found what she thought was a stray and asked me to keep it in my yard because hers wasn’t fenced. Of course, the dog had been close to home, but once he was put in my yard, he was much harder to find by his owners. Luckily, through a series of random connections the dog was reunited within a matter of hours. These near misses underscore what? How tenuous things are? How important connecting with others is? Don’t know. But I’m glad your story had a happy ending!


  4. One of my most favorite stories and the perfect analogy for your moment with Pettigrew. I’m so happy to hear things are improving! That is wonderful news!


    1. Thank you! Yes, we are happy and grateful that Pettigrew is doing so much better. It’s been a long haul. So interesting to learn that that parable is one of yours and mom’s favorites. Guess you can tell we’re in the same family.


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