Hands of the Father on the Prodigal

These hands
have loved me,
have given me reproof
and have guarded my coming and going.
These hands have lifted and taught,
have held me in the morning and at days’ end.
These hands had folded, fisted in my mind
as I ran down that path away from myself,
looking for myself, yet finding only dust.
I hoped for these hands in the poor dark days,
through the night vigil of the soul’s near-death.
In a distant window they appeared –
holding lights, clasped for prayer, in my mind’s eye.
Turning toward home, I felt them open to receive me,
their living warmth upon my face, always needing me;
then sounds of swine and the stench of reality
stamped my spirit down to a depth of dead things.
Eating from the trough of wasted life and drinking mud
my suffocated soul, stretched thin on the cord
of its final breath, summoned some imparted energy –
rising life of the last dark day – and turned toward home
to a flicker from the lamp of cupped hands
in a chamber room; light leading life down a long road.
Nothing is left but this. Take me. Take me.
From the mud and dust of this path I looked up. The hill,
the hands stretched out. The sight of the Father
flowing, pouring, running down the road for me
drew out this entombed heart for him to hold –
a child, arms extended – arching over space and time.
Dust. Breath. Innocence. Beginning. Life.
My face feels the fabric of his robe – true love’s weave.
Arms embracing. Tears anointing.
Hands receiving, pardon granting.
Giving grace in this forever of today.


Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt van Rijn

(Image credit – http://www.rembrandtpainting.net)

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