Current Issue

Young & Old: Parabola Volume 46, No. 2, Summer 2021

“I am of old and young,” wrote Walt Whitman, “of the foolish as much as the wise….”

These words from this issue convey well the fruits of this Summer 2021 edition of Parabola. Our younger selves seed what we become and, as we age, we carry our earlier years with us. A sage elderly woman once told me, “some things you can only understand when you’re old”; yet equally true is that the young can know what the old forget: “become as little children,” Jesus taught.

The young have much to gather from the old, and the old from the young. Jim Kristofic’s essay here, “Return of the Runner,” tells the powerful story of an aging Navajo who runs to remind the young of his people’s history. Katherine Paras’s contribution, “Catch a Falling Star,” by contrast celebrates children’s spiritual awakenings despite the skepticism often leveled by adults.

Young and old are eager to learn from one another when approached openly. In Fred Cheney’s affecting story, “The Lesson,” a young girl gets unexpected and welcome direction from an old man. Lillian Firestone’s “A Hunger for Reality,” a memoir of working with the young at spiritual centers, explores how children and adults can enlighten one another in turn, while Ken Krushel’s inspiring article, “The Desk,” depicts an extraordinary collaboration among schoolchildren, their teachers, and other adults.

With reflections by filmmaker Kent Jones on the special power of classic movies, two haunting folktales, interviews with Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee and religion studies pioneer Huston Smith, and much more, we hope that this issue will be of benefit to all readers, of any age.

—Jeff Zaleski

table of contents

The Return of the Runner  Jim Kristofic
An older Navajo runs for his people

As Time Goes By   Kent Jones
The special power of classic films

Moving Toward the Center  Eliezer Shore
Jewish wisdom on ageing well

The Desk Kenneth Krushel
A miracle made of wood

A Path of Love and Freedom Amir Freimann
A conversation with Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Catch a Falling Star Katherine Paras
The wonder of children’s spiritual experiences

Finding the Way Home David Guy
The truth of suffering and release from suffering

The Scout Keith Badger 
The profundity of Scouting

Young and Old, Old and Young  John Cech
We are the span of our lives

The Lesson Fred Cheney
An encounter to last a lifetime

“Like a Tidal Wave”  Richard Marranca
A conversation with religious studies pioneer Huston Smith

A Hunger for Reality  Lillian Firestone
An experiment in authentic living

The Dearest Old Man  Louisa May Alcott
A delightful tale of young and old


The Voyage of Bran  Retold by Surnai Molloy
Anonymous / Irish myth

Half a Blanket  Retold by Joseph Bruchac
Anonymous / Mohawk-multicultural folktale

book reviews

The Truth About Magic  Richard Smoley
reviewed by John Shirley

The Golden Age of Zen  John C.H. Wu
reviewed by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos