Me, Myself & I: Prodigals All
I'm not sure what started me thinking about this, but the theme of the Prodigal Son has been surfacing in my life a lot lately. Instead of thinking of the prodigal as different people in a story, however, I've been thinking about it as different aspects of myself. I have a "good son" part of me that always tries to do everything right--that feeds the cows and does what's good and true. And I also have an "adventurous and carefree" self that sometimes wants to go off and climb mountains and wander through rainforests. There's a part of me that is really good at creating fantasy (especially when I'm hurt or scared) and there's a part of me that is firmly plugged into reality and knows what it means to have deep roots of faith. I'm rational and irrational; I'm logical and emotional; I'm body and spirit.
But the aspects of myself that I call "good" are much more welcome in my world than the parts that don't do things "right." My prodigal self needs to be able to come home hungry, having tried the wrong road and found it wanting, and find the true, warm, embracing love of a forgiving, understanding self that is eager to welcome those messy aspects back into the fullness of life. But all too often I think I behave like the jealous "good" brother in the story, wanting to tell the prodigal self that it didn't earn it's happiness; it doesn't deserve a break; it didn't do the right thing when push came to shove.
I'm so glad that Jesus told that story. He was talking about grace, mercy, forgiveness. He was talking about what matters--life, all of it--good, bad, messy, wonderful, upside-down, inside-out life. What matters is wholeness, not hiding, truth. When we can welcome those hidden or distanced (or rejected) parts of ourselves back into the family, simply because they exist, we will find what it means--in that very moment--to live Heaven on Earth.