As I write this, there’s a woman heading home to Montana who will probably reach into her purse and wipe her hands with a scented towelette from Bath and Body Works. There are others scattered from south Georgia to the coast of South Carolina who are cleaning their hands with foam soap or perhaps applying antibacterial hand cream to soften and scent their hands. Some are using cotton blossom while others prefer brown sugar vanilla or perhaps more of a fruity scent like peach or pineapple.
What all of these good-smelling gals have in common is their benefactor, a student who knows and practices the lessons behind “random acts of kindness.” Because of his kind letter and gift card, I was prompted to “pay it forward” and follow his example by using the card for surprise gifts for these ladies. I think AG would approve of that gesture, and I’d like to think that Willie Mae, Judy, Shirley, Ann, Carrie, Elizabeth, and Amanda will now emulate his generosity as they “pay it forward.”
Let’s get back to the Prodigal’s mother. I can’t stop wondering about her and why she’s missing from this parable. Is it because the story is symbolic of our Heavenly Father’s acceptance and forgiveness of us and our wasteful, prodigal wanderings and not of a female creator and forgiver? Is it because women stayed behind the scenes in that day and time? As a mother in 2007, when any of my children arrive, I do everything possible to make them feel welcome, and as time allows, I really make a big production out of it.
If anyone knows where this mother was or why she’s missing from the story in Luke, please enlighten me.
I can’t stop thinking of the Prodigal son…and of all the other characters involved including his father, older brother, and even his mother. Where was she? Was she inside preparing some of her son’s favorite dishes? What about when he first appeared on the horizon? Had she been watching and praying? When he arrived, did she go outside to see what the ruckus was all about? Was she allowed to fall on his neck and kiss him too?
I’ll focus on the mother another day. Today I’m thinking of the relationship between father and son. I’m zeroing in on them because of a conversation that I had with Elizabeth and Paul last week as we enjoyed a meal together. Curious about family furniture, Paul began asking questions about who got what and why. How did his older sister end up with the dining room table and chairs? And why did his other sister have Granny’s furniture, including the very table we were sitting around that day?
“The green leather couch is mine, right?” he asked. I told him that I was currently using and enjoying that couch but that I’d make sure that he wouldn’t be forgotten when the time came to give away family possessions. In fact, without even thinking about it, the words of the Prodigal’s father came to mind, and I said, “Don’t you know that all that I have is thine?” He recognized the phrase immediately, and we chatted briefly about the story.
Although Paul isn’t the older son who’s been loyally working for years without even one fatted calf being prepared in his honor, he’s a human being who wonders, like all of us, how it seems that some people appear to have more than we do. I’ve read and listened to much commentary on the older brother’s attitude, and many see him as whiney and ungrateful. I see him as human. I also see that despite feeling left out and passed over, he feels secure enough in his relationship with his father to ask questions about his perceived mistreatment.
My children are all huge Harry Potter fans, and I’m feeling a little like the Prodigal’s older brother this morning. Have any of you ever wondered why J.K Rowling is a billionaire and you’re not?
I’m stressed to the max. For real. A month or so ago I mentioned that we put our house on the market in November, but did I also mention that we bought another one? Yep, we did. Feeling confidently optimistic, we secured a “bridge loan” that involves paying only the interest on the loan. Sounds great, right? It is and it isn’t. It’s nice in that we get to live in the new house, but coming up with nearly $900 extra per month is a major hassle…no, that’s not the word. It’s a major stressor, a stressor that has lots of little hassles attached to it. Here it is nearly August, and the house still sits there, empty and quiet, and we’re feeling more than a little uneasy about our finances.
On the way home from work yesterday, I was experiencing what psychologists might call cognitive anxiety as I thought of what our next step might be. We have a problem; what’s the solution? My thoughts were running a little wild, and I decided to turn the radio on for distraction. Immediately, Paul McCartney’s voice reminded me to “let it be.” I once read that he wrote that song at a time when the Beatles were going through sort of a rough patch, and he was uncertain about their future. Plus, a couple of them had married, and their lives were different from what they had been…and from what Paul’s was like. He was in an in-between place, feeling stressed and concerned about the future. One night he awakened from a dream in which his mother (whose name was Mary) visited him and told him to “let it be.”
Mother Mary’s words affected her son profoundly, and all these decades later, they touched me, a woman driving home from work in America. What great advice. I’m trying to follow it, to let things be. It reminds me of another similar admonition to “Let go and let God.” Perhaps the former Beatle’s song was a reminder from above.