[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

3.19.2004

some thoughts on coming home

every year @ about this time, i make a trip home for the opening weekend of the ncaa basketball tournament. for me, this weekend is the best of the tournament, not the final four. for four straight days, my family and i watch hours and hours of basketball (renee' often opts for surfing the web; ellie grace, in this, her first tourney trip, plays w/ cat toys or tries to eat a bug). but really, it's not buzzer-beaters and upsets that prompt my trip, it's just a chance to come home.

in the lenten class @ st. peter's, we've been talking our way through all the collects and readings for the season (notice the nifty new purple banner?). next sunday's gospel is the parable of the prodigal son, and ollie recommended i read henri nouwen's the return of the prodigal son to prep. it's an exercise i highly recommend and one i intend to repeat annually. anyway, in reading i came upon this passage, which seems to speak poignantly to the situation i find myself in:

"addiction" might be the best word to explain the lostness that so deeply permeates contemporary society. our addictions make us cling to what the world proclaims as the keys to self-fulfillment: accumulation of wealth and power; attainment of status and admiration; lavish consumption of food and drink, and sexual gratification without distinguishing between lust and love. these addictions create expectations that cannot but fail to satisfy our deepest needs. as long as we live within the world's delusions, our addictions condemn us to futile quests in "the distant country," leaving us to face an endless series of disillusionments while our sense of self remains unfulfilled. in these days of increasing addictions, we have wandered far away from our father's home. the addicted life can aptly be designated a life lived in "a distant country." it is from there that our cry for deliverance rises up. (nouwen, 42-43.)

after many futile attempts to deny myself this lent, nouwen's words are as accurate a portrayal of my life as rembrandt's of the return of the prodigal son, his magnificent painting that hangs in the hermitage museum in st. petersburg. but, thanks be to god, i can come home, and it's that hope that drives me to passages like this, from the pen of henry drummond (i think the book, bread and wine: readings for lent and easter, is out of print, but maybe used copies are out there somewhere):

in the end, it is god looking into the sinner's face that matters. knowing first hand the difference between human and divine sorrow is of utmost importance. it is the distinction luke brings out in the prodigal son's life, between coming to himself and coming to his father. "he came to himself," and then "he came to his father." so we are always coming to ourselves. we are always finding out, like the prodigal, the miserable bargains we have made. but this is not the crucial thing. only when we come to our father in response to his waiting look can we be freed and forgiven.

a pedro the lion song called "almost there" says: the chances are slight that I won't shoot up tonight, but the sensation that's waiting beneath is a kick in the teeth. that's how i feel most nights, and more often than not i shoot up, i get my fix. but nouwen and drummond and all the authors of holy scripture promise that i can always come home. again and again and again. and, always, the father is waiting to embrace me.

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