a return observed

Posted: May 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

It had been bleakly quiet around the house, the last few weeks.  Both the mater and the lady of the house had grown grim.  They had been quiet more than usual, all these months since their youngest had left.  Oh, they were kind people, and people of great faith.  They tried to be fair and loving.  They made themselves stay after the business of everyday life.  But their usually-easy smiles had grown dim, along with their normal bright conversation.

This last few weeks, though, they seemed to be losing a crucial layer of hope.  She retreated from the rest of us and often her eyes stayed red all day.  We tried to joker her out of her mood, but her words were leaden and her dull expression seemed to draw the air out of the room.  He wasn’t much better.  The spark had deserted his step.  Sometimes he seemed angry.  Other times, it appeared that if he sat down, he might never get up again.  We saw him wandering the fields at all hour, glaring down at the dirt or staring off into the horizon. 

It had always been such a joyous home to work in, filled with noise and bustle.  But no more.  The master and the lady grow quieter, somehow dimmer by day.  A thundercloud made its home on their remaining son’s brow.  I wondered if joy would ever return to this home.

Late one afternoon, the deathly stillness of the home was broken.  We all heard shouting outside.  I hurried to see what the commotion was, following quickly behind the lady.  I heard her breath jerk as she reached the window, where she stopped so suddenly that I nearly barged right over top of her. 

What was this?  The master hurried toward the house, shouting.  I couldn’t make out what he was saying, mostly because it made no sense.  It seemed like instructions for a party – a feast?  Why was he laughing?  And who was that ragged stranger by his side?

A small, high-pitched cry escaped the lady’s lips and she reached to steady herself as her knees started to buckle.  The sound rose to a half-strangled sob and then I realized – that was no stranger!  That was their youngest son!  He was home!

Most of us hadn’t believed we would ever see that boy again.  He had left with his half of the family inheritance, leaving these dear people to suffer the shame of his choices.  We had all heard this big talk before he had left, and many had whispered the rumors of his wasted life in a faraway city since then.  Was he really home?

Bursting out the door, she rushed to the boy, throwing herself on him in an embrace.  He stood quiet as she held him and all the pain and fear of these last months escaped her in tears and cries.  “My son!  You are alive!  You are home!”  She held him and held him as if gathering every lost opportunity since his leaving.  Quiet tears slid down the mask of shame that was his face.

I slipped away to heat some water.  He would definitely need a bath. 

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