Shackleburg  (parable)

The leg irons were part of everyday life. The residents of Shackleburg had always worn them, or so it seemed. No one alive could remember a time when the heavy, iron, key-holed bands joined by a thick chain could not be found around the calloused ankles of Shackleburg residents. They just accepted them, the same as they accepted moles or brown hair or bad weather. Shackles were a fact of life that couldn't be changed.

Shackleburgers all walked with small, shuffling steps, for the chains were short and didn't allow long strides. Pants were such that they fastened along the inseam and up the crotch, so that folks could easily remove them. The shackles wouldn't allow pants to be slid on from the ankles.

Games were played among the young, but action wasn't very fast. Quick movements were few, for obvious reasons. Many games involved use of the hands primarily with little locomotion. Upper body development was often disproportionate to lower body development, especially among athletes. Many Shackleburg residents appeared top heavy.

The citizens of Shackleburg performed the duties of everyday, including bathing (showers, not baths) and driving (vehicles were guided and powered mostly with hand controls), without complaining. They had been about this encumbered way of life for some time now and barely noticed the difficulties of activities involving their legs. They accepted their plight, getting along as best they could in their condition. Despite their limited movement, people worked and played without even thinking about the irons. On occasion, they would find themselves in situations where legs that were free to move would indeed make things a great deal easier. In those situations, they usually forced a chuckle or a smile and continued on with their task.

Every so often, one of the uppity younger citizens would begin to ask questions, pointed questions, about the leg irons. Questions like, "Who started this whole shackle thing, anyway?" and "Wouldn't life be easier without them?" and "Aren't keyholes for keys?" Such questioners were usually put in their places by the elders, who lectured them on tradition and "accepting one's lot in life." Good citizens shouldn't talk about such "new-fangled ideas." Such talk only got people upset.

On rare occasions, some would even go so far as to try to remove the shackles, but they just didn't have the tools for performing such a task. The irons were indeed a burden for everyone in the town. Citizens dealt with their shackles in different ways. Some would try to drown their frustrations in drink, others sought companionship, others stayed busy at their jobs. But in the quiet of night, on their beds, the citizens in repose would hear the metallic click as they sought comfortable positions, and the sadness was sometimes unbearable. Deep inside, they knew the chains should be removed, but they lacked the ability to do so, and so, in private, they would often shed tears over their situation, sometimes weeping themselves into slumber.

Some tried to embrace the shackles by polishing or painting them. Available for purchase were leg iron accessories, like waterproof covers to prevent rust, and personalized, engraved plates to affix to the ankle bands. There were even charms to hang from the chain links. None of these made the irons easier to wear. Often, the accessories only reminded the wearer just what a burden the shackles were.

One particularly warm summer, rumors began circulating through Shackleburg that a key had been found. Reports came from the south side of town that people had been seen walking without leg irons. Many dismissed such a story as wishful thinking or a hoax. Many "keys" had been found in the history of Shackleburg, all of them later shown to be ineffective at unlocking the irons. Still, many held out hope that, at last, a true key existed. Some suspected that there indeed was a key; they just weren't sure where to look for it.

One day during that summer, around noon, a stranger entered town. Around his neck, on a string, hung an iron object. It looked remarkably like a key. The stranger walked, not shuffled, through town, with un-calloused ankles. No metallic clink could be heard as he strolled down the main avenue, greeting all the wide-eyed, open-mouthed, trembling faces with a solemn smile.

Romans 3:24 (NLT)   "Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins."

[ by Stephen F. Pizzini ( -- from 'Daily Wisdom' -- Ed:anon. ]


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