My brother studied abroad in Germany one summer. None of my siblings or I had ever been far from home by ourselves, so my parents were understandably on edge. They circled his return date on the calendar and checked it every day to see how much longer until he returned.
Finally, the day arrived, and my sister and I created some cute and tacky ‘Welcome Back’ signs to carry with us to the airport. We pulled in to the parking lot a good thirty minutes before arrival and watched the planes taxi about on the different runways.
The electronic board in the center of the airport notified us his plane was in and ready for passengers to depart. We huddled together and threw up our signs. He walked out of the terminal and smiled. He was exhausted from his journey, but he was glad to be home. We took turns hugging his neck and left to celebrate over pizza.
My idea of the prodigal son story was reshaped after this encounter. I had never before experienced greeting someone who was coming home from a long journey, especially a close family member.
Unlike the son in the story, my brother went away on good terms and knew he’d return in a matter of weeks. It didn’t stop our family from missing him and awaiting his arrival. How much more so did the father in the story anticipate and long for his son to come back?
I can only imagine the weight of sorrow the father in the story felt. He had no calendar to which he could point and countdown the passing days. Each day took longer than the previous one to complete.
When you’re waiting on something to happen, sometimes your mind plays tricks on you. It makes you think time is passing quickly, but at the same time it feels as if it’s going slowly. The father was hopeless.