Todays Scripture: Luke 15:11 – 32, The prodigal son.
In my last blog post I mentioned that we are longing to be “somewhere else”, because deep down we realize that there is something wrong with our current place. This comment could be labeled as “two – storey” language (please see http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/the-sacrament-of-mercy/ for a further explanation of what this is) or “dualism” It was not my intention to breed suspicion of this world or to breed contempt “against” the physical. The whole world was/is created good so we do not need “another place” to find peace so to speak. Yet, we do long for “another” place, we long for peace because we do not have it to the full here it seems. How do we explain this paradox?
I think one way to understand this further is to look at the parable of the prodigal son. The son leaves his place of rest and peace because he has the choice to do so. He is a free being. He ends up, after spending all the blessings that he had received from his home, in misery and suffering. His longing to be “somewhere else” has brought him to the edge of despair. In his despair he turns back towards his home. With sorrow in his heart he makes the journey of faith, trusting that his father will treat him a little bit better than the circumstance he finds himself in.He arrives at home, his father greets him with tears of joy and he is once again incorporated into the family. Why in the whole world did he have to leave in the first place we may wonder? He had the same blessings when he started out as in the end.
The answer is found in how we work as beings. We need experience, the live interaction, to be able to understand. We need time and we need to make the journey on “our own”. This is why teenagers can’t wait to leave the house and get their “own place”. This is why two-year olds tests the patience of their parents with absurd (really) demands. This is why we have the young adult “rebellion” against the values of their history. We need to “see for ourselves”. Make up “our own” mind. We truly believe that the “grass is greener” on the other side.
So are we really longing to be in “another place”? We are longing, that’s for sure. But it probably is not so much for “another place” as it is for peace. If we stop for a while and look at our reality closely, with eyes of faith, we soon realize that I do not need to “go somewhere” to find this peace. Fact of the matter is that if I can’t find peace here I probably can’t find it anywhere. It is not an environment we are “fleeing from” really, it is ourselves that we refuse to face. We are scared, and rightly so, of what we might see in our inner being.
But when we stop to face ourselves, often we do this in crises or when we suffer, just like the prodigal son, we realize that we can not live “our” lives on our own. We ask the question “What am I doing here? My cell does not have any coverage and it is dark. I’m in a dangerous neighbourhood. I can’t find my way out. I need my Father to get me out of this mess. So I pray that the cell will start working. It does! I phone my Father. My father comes and picks me up in his 4×4 truck just in time for me to see the shadows moving faster behind me. I am scared to tell my father why I was in that neighbourhood but I do. He looks at me and with tears in His eyes He says that He is so glad that I am still alive. I ponder this and realized that I faced my sins and my pride and I found myself in want. I was not able to get out of this situation on my own. I thank my Father for His mercy because I did not deserve it.
We do long for “another place”. But that “other place” is called home. The grass is not greener in foreign lands, grass is green everywhere, if you see it as it was/is created.