Monday, December 8, 2008

This Daughter Returns Once Again

I've always had trouble with the parable of the prodigal son. In that teaching, the younger son returns to his father's home after years spent away and is welcomed with open arms.

I had identified with the elder son in the story, the good boy, who found the lavish welcome unfair. This son had toiled dutifully for years without, he felt, such rewards as given the one who had walked away.

So, I didn't get it. Until now.

In the last couple of weeks, I've seen my plans for a much needed change continually thwarted. I did my best to listen and make adjustments, but the roller coaster ride of hopes raised and dashed continued.

I didn't handle it well at all. My emotions ran the show, and trust and inner peace seemed always just beyond my reach.

The prodigal son squandered his fortune in loose living and cavorting with harlots. I spent mine in fear and its various manifestations: anxiety, doubt, worry, and choppy sleep.

It wasn't a lot of fun.

I did manage to maintain awareness of the process, though. I recognized that rather than simply doing what was mine to do and allowing events to unfold, distrust was causing me to try to make something happen. I just couldn't seem to stop myself.

One evening, though, I'd had enough. I think I'd finally just worn myself out. As I sat down to meditate, filled with disappointment and remorse for having responded in opposition to all I knew, suddenly~~instantaneously~~ something shifted. Like the prodigal son in Christ's story, I was welcomed unconditionally back home.

In a moment, I was back in the manor house, and felt as if I'd never left. There was no need for apologies; no harshness came my way. My 'punishment', if that in fact was what it was, had already occurred in all I had brought on myself while away.

I understood some things from this experience that I'd never gotten quite as deeply before. Living in harmony is our birthright. That is our fortune. Spiritual development is about growing into that abundance and living it more fully in every moment of every day.

Yes, we can~~and we will~~turn our backs on this bounty again and again. We shall squander our fortune in the way that is our wont. But we can return at any moment we truly wish. No questions asked, although depending on our behavior while away, we may need to right a wrong done.

I also saw that we each have our favorite methods of leaving this state of grace. For the elder son, who lived and worked in the fields of his father, envy and judgment and minding someone else's business were his particular temptation points. As soon as he fell for them, he too had turned his back and left the fields of plenty. He was squandering his fortune in his own idiosyncratic way, but will be welcomed back whenever he decides to return.

And that change I needed? As soon as I got myself out of the way, things did begin to unfold. It's quite likely that the end result will be far better than I could have conceived.

Good thing I'm not driving this bus!

I hope this week finds you living within the fields of plenty! 


Loanne Marie


BONNIE said...

The Prodigal Son story has always been hard for me to cope with also--but I have had enough times that match the one you recently had so that I have been able to put that one to rest.

But I still wrestle with Martha and Mary.........and still wish he had told Mary to go out and help Martha in the kitchen a bit until the two of them could come back and sit at his feet to hear the Word. Others I have shared this with say "But Martha wouldn't have appreciated it!" I wonder.

loanne marie said...

I can't believe I never managed to answer this one until now!

As far as Mary and Martha...Rather than wish he had told Mary to go help, I wish he had gone and helped himself!!! Had he done this, though, he might have been crucified far earlier! That would have been a rather radical response in those times.

Yes, we must keep re~envisioning ancient stories, whether from the Bible or other sacred texts, in light of our current values. I find it a disservice to such tales to keep them locked into their time and place. It is wonderful to be reminded of how far we've come. We may as well bring these stories with us!

Thanks for writing, Bonnie! And please, write again!


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Leia Marie