Tuesday, July 19, 2011


And now for a long, drawn-out quote from Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son regarding leaving and returning "home." (Home is the center of my being where I can hear the voice that says: You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.)

"The farther I run from the place where God dwells, the less I am able to hear that voice that calls me the Beloved, and the less I hear that voice, the more entangled I become in the manipulations and power games of the world. It goes somewhat like this: I'm not so sure anymore that I have a safe home, and I observe other people who seem to be better off than I. I wonder how I can get to where they are. I try hard to please, to achieve success, to be recognized. When I fail, I feel jealous or resentful of these others. When I succeed, I worry that others will be jealous or resentful of me. I become suspicious or defensive and increasingly afraid that I won't get what I so much desire or will lose what I already have. Caught in this tangle of needs and wants, I no longer know my own motivations. I feel victimized by my surroundings and distrustful of what others are doing and saying. Always on my guard, I lose my inner freedom and start dividing the world into those who are for me and those who are against me. I wonder if anyone really cares. I start looking for validations of my distrust. And wherever I go I see them and I say: No one can be trusted. And then I wonder whether anyone ever really loved me. The world around me becomes dark. My heart grows heavy. My body is filled with sorrows. My life loses meaning. I have become a lost soul."

"The younger son's return takes place in the very moment that he reclaims his sonship, even though he has lost all the dignity that belongs to it. In fact, it was the loss of everything that brought him to the bottom line of his identity. He hit the bedrock of his sonship. In retrospect, it seems the prodigal had to lose everything to come into touch with the ground of his being. When he found himself desiring to be treated as one of the pigs, he realized that he was not a pig but a human being, a son of his father. This realization became the basis for his choice to live instead of to die. Once he had come again in touch with his sonship, he could hear- although faintly- the voice calling him the Beloved and feel- although distantly- the touch of blessing. This awareness of and confidence in his father's love, misty as it may have been, gave him the strength to claim for himself his sonship, even though that claim could not be based on any merit."

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