Sunday, February 28, 2016

Parables on Parables: The Prodigal Son

Here written is a parable I wrote a few years ago based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. This is an updated version (originally posted in 2007)

I remember the day that Mr. G's youngest son left to make a life for himself away from the family farm. Our family had worked for Mr. G even before I was born, so my memories of him and his two boys farming together were an extension of my own family life. I honestly can't remember Mr. G's boys not being a part of my life.
Every morning, it was my job to collect water from the well for morning household chores. As I carefully carried gallons of fresh water in the bucket upon my head, Mr. G would smile and greet me saying, "Here you go. “, and place a fresh-plucked flower from his own flower bed behind my ear.” A daisy for my day-star!” he would say on his way out to do his work. Mr. G had planted many different wild flowers in his flowerbed. He would water and weed those wild flowers as his morning ritual just like my water carrying. Our days would begin with water carrying and flower tending as we waited for the boys to get ready to leave for the days’ work.

Mr. G has two sons, Michael and Simon. Michael, the youngest, was fun loving and free spirited. Simon, the eldest, was serious and focused on tending to the farm.

There was a buzz about the farm this morning as I walked to the well. "How dare that child ask for his inheritance now?" muttered Molly the head cook to Ella her assistant. "Maybe he just not interested in farming like Simon. Michael is a free spirit." exclaimed Ella. "Well, free spirit or not, Simon is the eldest and he deserves his reward before Michael. You have to earn your way in this world, you know!"

Mr. G looked tired this morning, but still smiled, gave me a daisy and called me by the name of one flower or another from his garden. There was sadness in his eyes as he looked out the past gate and towards the horizon. Who was he looking for? Did Michael really leave the family farm?  Simon met his father and they quietly walked off together to begin the daily chores.

Days passed and there was no sign of Michael. Some days, Michael used to play hide and seek in the garden with me and I missed the fun we used to have. I asked Simon if he would play a round of hide and seek but he growled, “Don’t you have something better to do than playing silly games? I think Michael is playing enough games for all of us."
Morning after morning and water bucket after water bucket, Mr. G and I would chat about the flowers and how he took care of them. Mr. G said, "You know rose petal, people are a lot like flowers." "Flowers?”, I exclaimed, “ I know you tell me I look like a flower, but how do I act like one?" I replied. He smiled and began to explain, "First, flowers seeds have to be planted in good soil. Then the flower seeds need to be watered, get plenty of sunshine. Hopefully, the flower seed can break out of the soil, turn towards the sun and be nourished so it can grow to full bloom.”

"Excuse me Mr. G, but how can a flower seed DO anything? Doesn't the gardener control what happens in the flower bed?" "Not really, petunia - I've tried to grow many different kinds of flowers in this flowerbed. I've planted them in the best soil, watered them every morning, and removed the weeds and sometimes the seeds just don't grow, Petunia.” A tear rolled down Mr. G's face as he said, "Every one of us is like the flower seed, Hollyhock, and we all are drawn out of the darkness and dirt to be nourished by the sun."

"Mr. G, can I ask you a question?" I asked. "Certainly, Sunflower."
"Are you hoping that Simon and Michael are drawn out of the dirt and show the world who they are - like the flowers?" “Yes, dear one. It has been my hope that my children would turn towards the light of love and grow.

"Tulip, All in all, the good gardener only wants to see the beauty of the flower he planted. He wants to see all color, vividness and joy bursting from each and every petal. The good gardener wants to see his garden grow as beautiful and strong as it can be. I desire that both Simon sand Michael can find a way to be happy and fulfilled, to receive the light of the sun here on the farm.”

We sat at the edge of the flower bed, picking weeds and listening to the morning birds singing. "Freesia, I’d best get to the fields for now. There are more flowers out there for me to check on, said Mr. G. as he got up from his flowerbed and walked down the path to the front gate of the farm. Just as he reached the gate, Mr. G turned and looked back to me and said, “Hey there Violet, please remember that love is a gift that is given – not earned. I pray that both Michael and Simon remember this gift of love too!’ I thoughtfully listened to Mr. G’s words, his concern for his boys and how he cared for all the flowers of the fields, and said:
“I know that love is a gift, because you share it with me every day when we talk together – how could anyone forget a love like that?  You are a good gardener, Mr. G!”
Mr. G smiled – and headed out to the field as one who knew love, because he had received love and had hope in his heart that all might remember it is a gift that can only be given – not bought or earned. Humble seeds – flowers and people – bloom in the light of love. Every day, Mr. G continued to watch water and weed in the lives of his flowers and waited expectantly for the morning that his garden and his children would be drawn out of the soil, be nourished by the sun and show their whole-hearted beauty to the world around them.

God is calling to each one of us, "Come back, with your whole heart."
The parable of the prodigal son is an expression of the complex structure of family relationships, grace and forgiveness and ultimately God's perspective on our place with him. Grace, light, warmth, comfort, and healing are represented in the role of the Father in this parable. The character of the father is a sketch of God's grace filled attitude towards humanity. Just as the father in this parable longs for his lost son to return home and his eldest son to return to a relationship based on grace and not works. God desires us to come back to him.

It could be said that the father in this parable represents grace, the prodigal son imperfect humanity, and the eldest son works. All three of these characters are ones that each one of us can play out in and through our lives.
We are imperfect like the prodigal son: self-seeking in nature. We can be harsh and unforgiving like the eldest son; causing divisions and judgment to rule over the relationships in our lives. The role we play varies over the journey of our lives but with God’s help we can be givers of grace and breathe life into the world around us.
No matter what role we can relate to the most, God calls to each one of us to, "Come back, with your whole heart." God knows that we are all lost without him - through his grace we can receive the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51). Just as the young son came home to receive the forgiveness and restoration, our God is standing waiting for us to return home in one way or another.

Prayer: Heavenly Father - The gift of grace provides light, warmth, comfort and healing. Continue to allow this gift to grow in you today by coming home to God with your whole heart.


Mel said...

I think it's brilliantly written. Ty for sharing it here.....

Lamont said...

Thanks Mel for reading.