Step Up With Steph

The Prodigal Son - Part Two

Written by Stephanie Odilli on the 23rd December, 2020

man thinking

Taking a look at me in my torn, faded robes, his blue eyes already cast me out as one to fend to his pigs which I did well. In a land of small and a time of famine, eating the food made for pigs didn’t look so bad. I’ll sit crossed away from the animals who irritatedly watched me munch away their dinner. This job provided me food to eat and a pack of hay to sleep on. I was thankful. However, not for as long as I’d imagined. Whatever my body has saved and diluted in the last one year made its way out of my mouth and anus as I struggled to stay alive and well. Life was leaving. And on one of those days where life gradually left me, I got up from the barn I slept in and thought to myself: “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!?” The evil I had done to myself was enough. I made a decision that night, and once again, prepared a speech for my father. I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” Yes this was strictly business. No father on earth will take back a child who forced them to sell early just to get an inheritance and squander it. No father will forgive a son this cruel and wasteful. But I’d rather wash toilets in my fathers house and be treated like a person than to wither away in this faraway land eating whatever. After two long weeks of near death experiences I could see my fathers house in the distance. The usual bright blue lights and the mellow sound of the music playing was not seen or heard. I only knew it was my fathers house because it has the same lawn I’d grown to know and love. A lawn like no other indeed. As I got nearer to the house, I heard a loud shout from the gates. My father called me by name. He saw me and had immediately had compassion. How could he have known I was coming back to him had he not stood out here everyday waiting for me to come home. My father like the gazelle on the fields ran towards me and fell on my neck and kissed me. The chills that ran ahead of my father over my body was nothing I had anticipated. There I was a broken torn man and my father stood here, swooning over me like I never left. The only words my heavy mouth could say were “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” I wept in his arms and he embraced me even more and shouted to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ Like a moment from a carnival, my entire household began to be merry. The usual bright blue lights and the mellow sound of the music playing was seen and heard again. My brother who had not been home all this while started returning from the field and being ushered into the house with cymbals, drums and wine flowing all over the place. To the great disappointment and anger of my brother who stood there, hands akimbo, with eyes redder than the Nile, he found out the true story, including realizing that my father ordered an instant party in my name, for me; the prodigal son who was deemed unworthy by all standards. The response given to my brother - “Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf” infuriated him some more. I imagined that while I was away he had played the game of favorites and had expected that he would be rewarded and I punished. I guess he doesn’t understand how father works. He stood outside our family gate refusing to step foot in the house. His voice croaking as he tries to put out his frustration into words. The servants alerted my father of this who then came out to speak with my brother. All the while I was silent. He burst into tears as he lamented to our father “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.” As hurtful as his words were to me, he was right. I wish it was not me who had to bring this amount of shame and pain to my household. But if my father already forgave me, my brother’s annoyance didn’t matter to me. Father eventually replied to him “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ Those words rang over and over in my ears until it finally hit me. It wasn’t about me being a prodigal son, it was about me being lost. Lost to lust, to the darkness of worldly pleasures, to the plagues of sinful nature and suffering. I was lost in the light of my fathers love. In retrospect, if I had known that this would be the reception I’d receive, would I not have been home sooner? Would I have ever stepped away from the covering of my father? Knowing it was my guilt that kept me away from my father’s love and not my father himself brings me to my knees. What amount of sadness, sin, past or problem can separate myself from my father? Not one. Not a single one.