Lenten reflection — perspective on the parable

February 13, 2016

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face … 1 Corinthians 13: 11-12a

When I was a child,
I ran away like a child —
I was selfish and cruel
and could not imagine how I would hurt
those who loved me.

When I was the prodigal,
I almost destroyed my own life
with foolish choices.

When I was an adult,
I was mean like an adult —
I polished my accomplishments,
rehearsed my contributions
to the lives of others,
and showcased my grievances.

When I was the elder sibling,
I almost cheated myself
of a party
and a chance to love and be loved.

When I was a parent,
I wept like a parent —
I felt unable to help any
of my children, even though I knew
the dangers of the road
and the angers
of the not-entered door.

When I was the parent,
I did not feel like a metaphor for God,
I just hurt, hoped, hurt
some more,
and tried to make home
a place where anyone could dance.

So I’ve been around this story
and seen it
from all the insides out,
and I just want to be recognized
face to face.

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8 Responses to Lenten reflection — perspective on the parable

  1. Part of the wisdom that comes with aging is the ability to envision ourselves as all the different characters in this parable and to empathize with each. Your words have well-captured the images in the mirror.

  2. Maren says:

    Thank you, Toni.

  3. Jessica McArdle says:

    Maren,
    Once again you’ve taken scripture from an unexpected angle. This last piece – like your others – broadened its subtext…and truly resonated. I felt touched to the core. Thank you for this and your other gifts. My hands are open to receive them.

    Grace and peace,
    Jessica

  4. Jack Shackles says:

    Maren,
    … the angers of the not-entered door – What a haunting phrase. This morning I have been focused on the lament of Jesus; “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you! How often I have wanted to gather your people just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that.” The angers of the not-entered door would carry Jesus to his cross. How many times have I not entered one of God’s open doors?

    Peace,
    jack

  5. Yes, your image of the not-entered door and the anger radiating on both sides, is powerful. I recall, as I read this, Buechner’s tribute to the strangers who were treating his anorexic daughter, how capable they were, how they ministered to her and to him, when he, the father, was so immersed in her pain he could not function at all. I wonder if part of the healing of the parable is possible because father and son have become strangers to each other, able to respond to each other rather than out of their joined selves.

  6. Maren says:

    Do you recall that he went to be with her — not “fulfilling his commitment” to be keynoter at the Mass Conference in 1982 and there were those who criticized his doing that (even though he got Walter Bruggeman as his replacement) I was pregnant then and I committed myself always to put my family ahead of such commitments.

    • Wow, I don’t remember that. I was probably thrilled to hear Bruggeman, and had read so much Buechner at that point that I didn’t mind. I also think I would have thought his place was with his daughter. I think he was a good dad, driven by his own loss and love for his dad. But I think he spoke the truth about compassion being so painful that it can shut us down as caregivers, sometimes. And for the stranger, it can open us up – as it did the Good Samaritan –

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