I always enjoy being shown a whole new way of looking at something that’s old, familiar, and ingrained. That happened to me recently with the story of the Prodigal Son.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Biblical parable about a wealthy man whose younger son asked for his share of his father’s estate, then left town and squandered it all. When he returned home, humble and ashamed, his father welcomed him back with open arms and a big celebration – which didn’t set well with the older son, who had stayed home and been an obedient and hardworking son all along, without receiving any praise or parties for his loyalty.
The Prodigal Son has been the subject of many church sermons and Bible Studies. The lessons often focus on repentance and forgiveness, and sometimes ask participants to imagine how they would feel or react if they were the younger son, the older one, or even the father.
Of course, it’s easy for us to look down on the younger son who abandoned his home and family, and then engaged in reckless, immoral, and extravagant behavior. But a clip I saw recently on a television talk show offered a totally new perspective, suggesting that the two sons could represent two different parts of ourselves: the heart and the mind. Our heart is the “son” who’s always home, always working to keep everything running smoothly. Our mind is the one that often wanders – sometimes far from home and to places that aren’t very positive or productive.
As someone whose mind often wanders – and I don’t think I’m alone here – this forced me to look at the Prodigal Son in a totally different way, and one that I can easily relate to. I’m not trying to rewrite the parable or take anything away from its religious message. But I’m intrigued by how an old, familiar story can be transformed into something that reaches and teaches me in a whole new way.
One of the lessons has to do with judging others – and the fact that we shouldn’t. Another is about paying attention whenever my mind wanders off from wherever it’s supposed to be – and acting quickly and decisively to get it back where it belongs.
Best of all, though, is the lesson – and the reminder – that home is where the heart is. No matter how far, or how often, we wander.
February 16, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020
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