As I wrote yesterday, Luke 15 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. I have gone back to this chapter time after time, but especially to the story today beginning in verse 11 – the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Lost Son, The Parable of the Father – different names, same story. I first encountered this story in a new way through Henri Nouwen’s amazing book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, which transformed my understanding of the parable. I had previously only focused on the younger son in the story, but Nouwen showed me the other characters in the story in a new way. He also illuminated my understanding of art in a new way as he interpreted the parable through the lens of Rembrandt’s painting of the same name.
What struck me about the parable today was how each character in the story was one of beauty that has falled or is hurting. The younger son is energetic, adventurous but his impulsiveness leads him into ruin eventually returning in humility. The Father is generous and loving but his heart is broken by both of his sons – the one who runs away with the inheritance and is presumed dead and the other who stays at home but is bitter and angry underneath. The older son is the dutiful, obedient one who (on the outside) looks like he’s got it all together, but underneath is what I just noted broke his father’s heart. There is beauty in each character as well as brokenness.
I saw this sight on my walk into the church this morning. We are in full-bloom of flowers around here right now but this really captured my attention. It was a bloom that had either fallen off the stem or had been broken off by someone/something. And there it lay in the grass. There was still aspects of the beauty of the flower, the colors and textures, but it is clearly broken and fallen.
Having been in that place several times in my life and walking alongside many who experience that in their lives today, I am grateful for the ways that we are able to be welcomed home like the Father did for the sons in the parable and how we can be restored and healed as we read in this amazing story.