(OK, maybe I should explain. I got to thinking about forgiveness and what comes with being forgiven. I wrote this from the perspective of the Prodigal Son. I hope you like it.)
I bathed five times and rubbed my skin with rose petals. I burned my clothes and shaved my hair. It might be my imagination, but as my trembling hand pauses on this old familiar wooden door I can still smell the pigs.
A hundred eyes wait for me on the other side of the door. The side where the wine flows freely and the song of the lyre drips like honey. But I’ve already looked into the eyes that matter and those eyes told me all I need to know.
In all my life I’ve never seen him run like he ran to me today, his robe hiked up in his belt like a common worker. The disgrace he wore was mine, should have been mine. Standing there in my father’s arms I cried like I haven’t cried since I was a little boy. We both cried until we ran out of tears, until all I could hear was the sound of dry leaves scuttling across the path like so many crabs at the seaside. He didn’t say much but the relief I saw in him only thinly veiled the pain and worry I had put him through. I meant what I said, ‘I am not worthy to be called your son’. But he wouldn’t listen. Sometimes I think forgiveness is harder to take than it is to give.
This isn’t what I wanted. If I could only work for him like I had planned. I could serve them anonymously, alone with my shame. In so many ways that life would be easier than living with the disappointment in my brother’s eyes. For the rest of my life I’ll be living on his charity. I’ve spent my part of the fortune. Asking for my cut with my father still alive was like telling the world I wished he was dead. My brother may never forgive what I’ve done. But what I’m about to do is not for him.
My father wants things back the way they were. His love powers the courage I need to walk through this door, the courage to put the past behind me, the courage to forgive myself. Standing on the path I looked deep into his eyes and what I saw changed me forever. I saw an image of myself reflected there, me but not me. Gone were the smelly clothes, the dirty hands and ratty beard. In my father’s eyes I was stood strong and tall and glorious. In my father’s eyes I am a prince and from now on I will do whatever I must do to be the man he sees.