March 14, 2013

Lenten Journey: The Inheritance

Then he said, "A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them.
- Luke 15:11-12
For Reflection...

What was the father thinking?  It was as if he were dead, only he wasn't.  If he had been, if the inheritance had come to his sons in the standard way, he wouldn't have been present to witness the consequences.  Instead, in an act of fearless generosity, or reckless abandon, he gives them everything and stands by to watch the drama unfold.

What does he see?  He sees his older son continue unwaveringly on the well-worn path.  He doesn't spend his inheritance.  Maybe he buries it (Matthew 25:18).  All is safe and sound.  No reward, no risk.  The father sees him day by day, sees the groove he walks become a rut.

The father also sees his younger son.  He sees him pack his things.  He sees him walk down the road to God-knows-where.  Will he ever lay eyes on him again?  Where is he going?  Away.  To a far distant country.

The father can't be surprised.  He knows his sons, knew this might happen.  One son, stolid but tethered, the other, untethered but wanton.  The father might even have dreaded seeing it, but he has allowed it.

This is a portion of the inheritance -- the freedom to stand still and the freedom to walk away and keep on walking.

The inheritance comes with no strings attached.  Both sons are free to do with the inheritance what they will.  And they do.

Meanwhile, the father watches.  We know he is watching.  Maybe he looks out at the road as he looks  across the fields, seeing one son at his labors, waiting to see the other coming back across the horizon.

For Entering In...

Wherever you are right now, God is present too.  Look around you.  Are your surroundings familiar or new to you?  What do you notice?  Can you recognize that God is here, now?

Reflect on these questions:
  • How do you understand the father's decision to say, yes, to giving the inheritance to his sons?  Do you see it as generous?  Foolish?  Or something else?  
  • What do you think of as your "inheritance"?  From your parents or other family?  From God?  How are you spending it?  Or have you buried it to keep it safe?
  • Have you ever given something of yourself away freely only to see it abused?  Maybe money?  Your friendship?  Your heart?  What happened?  How did -- or does -- that feel?
  • Have you created a rut for yourself?  What is that like?  Or do you keep moving, never finding a comfortable groove?
  • How do you understand freedom?  Are you free to live as you choose?  What does that mean?  What are the potential consequences when you choose to exercise your freedom?  The good?  The not-so-good?
Remember your prayer word?  Return to it, if you have forgotten to do so these past few days.  Breathe into that word.  Where does it reside in your body?  Notice how it feels.

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