Feb 17, 2010

Leaving Home

I have been rereading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen.  It is a marvelous discussion and analysis of the parable told by Jesus while at the same time using Rembrandt's famous painting of the same name.  As Nouwen tells the tale of the  younger son who demanded his inheritance, left home, and foolishly squandered it all, he considers the true meaning of "leaving home."
Leaving home is, then, much more than an historical event bound to time and place. It is a denial of the spiritual reality that I belong to God with every part of my being, that God holds me safe in an eternal embrace, that I am indeed carved in the palms of God's hands and hidden in their shadows. Leaving home means ignoring the truth that God has "fashioned me in secret, moulded me in the depths of the earth and knitted me together in my mother's womb." Leaving home is living as though I do not yet have a home and must look far and wide to find one.

It is easy for us to think, "Well, I can't identify with the prodigal son, because I never did that."  But we need to think beyond the external facts. Consider Nouwen's verbs:

  • denial of the spiritual reality that I belong to God

  • ignoring the truth that God has created me

  • living as though I have no home and must look for another

Which of us can say these aren't daily struggles? The battle is great and constant. God have mercy!

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