Monday, February 29, 2016

The Extravagant Son and Father . . .

Image by Liz Lemon Swindle

The Experience of Spirit . . . Spirituality and Storytelling . . .
By John Shea                                                                       
A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

On the hill beside his home the Father waits.  He has been there before.  He sees his son coming from a distance and lifting his robes above his knees he runs to greet him. The servants who are out in the field watch the old man running past them, his breath short, his eyes never wavering.  By the time the younger son sees him, the father is on top of him. He embraces his son and weeps down his neck.             
“O Father,” said the son, his arms never leaving his side.
“Bring the robe,” said the Father.  The servants had gathered around.

“I have sinned.”
“Bring the ring.”

“Against heaven.”
“Bring the sandals.”

“And against you.”
“Kill the fatted calf.”

“Do not take me back.”
“Call in the musicians.”

“As a son.”
“My SON,” and these words the father whispered into his ear, “was dead and has come back to life.”

“But as a hired hand.”

“My SON was lost and is now found.”

The party had no choice but to begin.  The older brother was out in the fields. He had worked late as usual.  The sweat of the endless day dripped down his face.  When he drew near the house, he stopped at the top of the hill.  He heard the sounds of rejoicing and dancing.  He grabbed one of the servant boys and asked him what was happening.  The boy said, “Your younger brother has returned and his father has killed the fatted calf and is rejoicing.

“Go, and tell my father I will not party with him,” said the older brother.
The servant boy entered the house and within moments the father came out of his home.  He pulled his robe above his knees and, out of breath but with his eyes unwavering, climbed up the hill to where his older son was standing.

“O my beloved son!” the father said, and embracing him, he wept upon his neck.
“All these years,” said the older brother, his arms at his sides. 
“I have slaved for you.”

“O my beloved son!” said the Father.  And with the sleeve of his robe he wiped the sweat from his son’s forehead.

“And you have never given me a calf so that I might party with my friends.  But this son of yours comes groveling home having squandered your inheritance with prostitutes; and for him, for him you kill the fatted calf.”

“O my beloved son!” said the father a third time.  “You have been with me always and all I have is yours.  But if any son of mine was lost, surely this feast will find him.  If any brother you know is dead, surely this party will bring him to life.” 

Then the father kissed both of the earth-hardened hands of his oldest son.

Suddenly the father was old.  He was a tired man.  He turned and moved back down the hill.  When he reached the bottom, he noticed his younger son had come out of the house.  The robe he had put on him had slid off one shoulder.  The ring he had given him had been too large for his starved finger and barely clung to the knuckle.  The leather of the sandals had already cut a ridge on his ankles.  The father looked back up at his oldest son.  He seemed to be frowning.  The sweat was still on him.  Between them both stood the father.

The music from the party, that at the moment none of them were at, drifted from the house and hung in the air between the three of them.  Suddenly the father was no longer tired.  He lifted his robes, and there between the son on the hill and the son outside the house, the joy of his heart overflowed into his feet.  In broken rhythm be began to dance, hoping the music he could not resist would find the hearts of the two brothers and bring his sons, his true inheritance, back to him. . . .
The Prodigal Son by Carrie Marsh

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