My Version of the Prodigal Son
Once there was a son of a wealthy farmer. He was a healthy young man, full of vim and vigour, intelligent and adventurous. After all, he had always been well-nourished and taken care of. He had never known abuse or any real danger. As he approached manhood, he became restless. His father seemed stodgy and boring, careful in his farming, and not very exciting. He was loving and kind, but sometimes his son found his concern for him rather smothering.
So the son demanded his inheritance money and went off on his own leaving behing his father's outdated, quaint, but foolish ideas. The son was going to have FUN, to really LIVE, to take the world by storm. It would be a blast.
When the son left, the father's heart was heavy and aching. He missed his son right from the start , and he also knew that what his son was chasing after would only lead to unhappiness. Every day the father longed for his son to return.
Meanwhile, the son went on a tear. He laughed uproariously with his buddies, he flirted extravagantly with the girls, and tossed around exceedingly clever ideas. It was deliriously fun to be free, to be in charge, to make all his decisions by himself, for himself, to be king of his life.
But one day, it all changed. His money ran out, his friends disappeared. He realized that he'd never really cared for them, or they for him. Had he used the girls or had they used him? The booze left a nasty taste in his mouth and an even nastier mood in his brain. He felt so alone. And so week after week, he dragged around barely scrapping by, and growing more and more bitter.
One morning, he saw a herd of sheep being led down the road and suddenly he was overwhelmed with homesickness for his father's farm and, even more so, for his father. He felt so alone and lost. He couldn't afford to buy a donkey, but he determined to go home anyway on foot. As he walked mile after mile, memories of time spent with his father came as vignettes to his mind. He remembered his father's hand on his shoulder, his look of concern when the son was troubled, his big smile when he greeted him. And slowly a feeling of dread began to grow in the son's heart. How selfish he had been, how wasteful, how mean, how unlike his father. How could a father possibly want a son like him? Of course, he wouldn't want him anymore. And yet the son kept walking because he wanted so much to hear his father's voice even if it was angry, even if it would reject him. He wanted to see his father; he wanted to be near him. Perhaps he could hide when he got to the farm, and just peek at his father from his hiding place.
Back at the farm, the farmer had tried to put on a cheerful face for his family and workers, but his gaze would naturally turn towards the road, staring long into the distance trying to pick out the smallest dot that might be his son returning home. Finally one day, he saw a small shape in the distance. As he squinted to see better, he thought even from afar that he recognized a way of moving. Clutching his shepherd's crook so hard that his knuckles blanched, he stared not wanted to blink in case what he saw would disappear like a mirage. He began to feel dizzy, his breath almost stopped. But it was, it truly was his son, he knew it was his son! He dropped his staff, and gathered up his robe in his hands and ran, his sandals slapping on the hard ground, his eyes fixed on his son. As he got closer, he saw that his son's face was downcase and that he wouldn't see him coming. He tried to call out to him but his breath was all but exhausted. Finally just as they were about to meet, the son looked up. His face froze with fear when he saw his father, but his father just grabbed him in his arms and sobbed with relief.
" My son," he cried. "My son, you have finally come home."
And the son's heart melted into his father's love.