Friday, April 30, 2010


There is a story that was run in the New York Times a year or so ago. It was written by a woman who was married to her husband for a long time. One day, her husband told her that he needed time to find himself. He left her and their children, telling them that he was not sure when he would be back, if he was to come back at all. The woman stood her ground, but she was standing on a remarkably sure plot of earth. She wrote that she knew him, loved him, trusted him and that she let him go. She wrote that she harbored no recriminations, no plots of revenge, no marshalling of retaliatory weaponry. She waited, secure in her knowledge of him, a knowing rooted in love and a hope that he would come back. He eventually did. Perhaps he found himself, or realized how he had lost himself and had to go back to recover who he really wanted to be.
The article generated thousands of responses from husbands, wives and lovers from all over the world. By far, most of the responses were ones of gratitude, written from places in lives where human hearts needed a reaffirmation of the need to trust in the seasons of love, and how some of those seasons ask that we wait, and perhaps wait long. Apparently there are a lot of people in this world who have risked waiting for love to come back and the gamble paid off.
Admittedly that woman’s experience is not typical. In fact it is probably quite rare. When love walks out the door, it is more common that the door is slammed shut and the memories of what could have been left out on the street.
We hear this gospel every year and are quite familiar with it. Some of us may identify with the lost and found son. Or we may identify with the resentful son. The father may strike a responsive chord in our experience – or perhaps the absent but surely present mother of the boy, who may have well had much to do with softening the heart of the father, urging him to wait and wait with love.
Whatever our resonance with the story of the Prodigal Son, we all have one thing in common. We look for love, need love, and when it comes it arrives as a gift. Sometimes it stays, sometimes it walks out the door. It may or may not come back.

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