Once upon a time, a father had two sons. They had a lot of land and lived on a farm. The sons never called each other brothers, but no one could understand why. The father loved them both, and all that the father had was free for the sons to share in as well. When they were kids, days would pass in which the two sons never played with each other. As they grew up, each did his own duties on the land, but they still never called each other brothers. However, a day came when the younger son decided to go to a far away country so he asked the father for his share. In their country, it was not a custom to ask for inheritance while the landlord was alive. It would be as if saying that one wants him dead. The village people gossiped the lad, he wants the father to die, they said.
The father, broken in heart but in all his love and kindness gave him his share and the son left. Home became a distant thought for the young one, a thought he rarely entertained. But then times got rough and he had almost nothing to eat, he became poor in every possible way so the thought of home started to whisper in his ears again. It was a disturbing thought at first, but after a while, it became sweet, much sweeter than any sweetness he has ever known. He collected his pride and set on a journey, a journey of homecoming.
The father longed for that journey to take place. He thought of the young one many times every day. Days became so lonely without the joy of having both sons in his dwelling. After days of journeying, the son approached the village and the heart of the father sensed him coming so he ran to greet him. The young one wanted to be the father’s servant, but he was not born to be a servant. He was born a son; not an ordinary son, but the son of a lord.
Embrace. The father welcomed him home. Tears. Joy. Confusion. The son fell on his knees before the mercy that he encountered. And the feast. The father’s joy could be expressed only through a royal banquet. The music was on, everyone was rejoicing, everyone but the older son. He almost forgot his father had another son, he did not want to remember as remembering was too challenging. Remembering would make him call that son a brother he never believed he had. He refused to party. He could not face the truth. He felt rejected, alone, betrayed. He could not forgive the young one for having always his own way. He refused to call him brother.
The music stopped.
The father left the party to regain another lost-son. The music stopped. Will the sons become brothers; will the music be on again? That story is on us to tell… We are sons, and brothers, daughters and a father, each in our own way.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, June 2007; based on the story of the prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32) Photo by © Garry Wallin