A mashal in Hebrew literature is a short, pithily aphoristic saying – loosely translated as a parable. I was in idle conversation with a lapsed-or at least very repressed-Catholic today about the existence of God – as if he had little better to do than simply exist-and if he did, what was he like? I felt like a conjurer pulling theological rabbits out of non-existent hats and realising uncomfortably that this kind of dialectic was circular at best and incomprehensible at worst. In other words, I wasn’t really secure in my powers of intellectual persuasion. The person I was talking to looked up at a hazelnut tree and pulled a branch containing three fruits from it. They took one of the fruits, removed the leaves then smashed the pithy outer shell with a brick. Careful peeling revealed a smooth, white core, falling neatly into two halves, one of which was popped into my mouth. The taste was strange, fresh, exotic and luxurious. “This”, the individual said, “is what God is like.” Deconstructing the sequence was an exercise in humility.