Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Cycle of Kenosis...

There are lots of existential and sociological "cycles." The image above displays popular Google searches for cycles such as "cycle of abuse," "cycle of violence," and others. I found myself recently wondering what a cycle of kenosis might look like. What would it look like if followers of the One who emptied himself of power, status, and identity, followed his example to the degree that it became cyclical?

There isn't likely one 'right' answer to that question. Kenosis has to be contextual. But I'm more curious here about what might happen if kenosis became a regularly repeated and reciprocated cycle (in the same way that violence is reciprocated in a cycle). Here is a parable that might capture a cycle of kenosis.

"The Princes and the Poison"

Once upon a time there were two princes who lived in the same kingdom. Each prince had a desire to out-do the other in an act of honor and humility. Since the greatest act of love in the kingdom was to give oneself for another, Prince Osis decided that he would drink a cup of poison in the place of Prince Keno and forever be remembered for his act of love.

As Prince Osis was about to lift the cup to his lips, Prince Keno thought of the greatest act of the kingdom and realized his calling to care for the other. So he grabbed the cup and said, "I shall take this cup in your place."

At that moment Prince Osis forgot of his prideful desire to be remembered as a legend and realized that he could not bear to see Prince Keno suffer, so he proceeded to take back the cup. Seeing this, Prince Keno was moved and felt a genuine concern for Prince Osis. He then swiped the cup right back from Prince Osis. This back and forth continued several times as each prince offered to suffer for the other. Finally, the cup ended up in the hands of Prince Osis once again.

With a tear in his eye, he raised the cup to his lips only to find that all of its contents had gradually spilt from the cup as the two princes expressed their willingness to suffer for each other.


  1. thank you for this. I think I will carry it with me for a while.

  2. An intrigueing idea... practicing cycles of kenosis. And a beautiful parable. Insightful to recognize pride in the original decision to act humbly. Thanks for this inspiration, Josh.

  3. Love this. Did you make the story up? Beautiful illustration...

  4. Thanks for the comments, friends. Yeah it's something that came to me when reading something from Moltmann (which I now can't seem to find as I searched through the pages; if I find it I'll share). Yes, the parable is original. I was just trying to capture the idea that when we sincerely love our neighbors - and let them love us as well - then life seems to win over death.