Proper 3, Year One
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 38 (morning) // 119:25-48 (evening)
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:17
Luke 15:1-2, 11-32
A number of years ago, I participated in a spiritual dance workshop that concluded with us creating dance-like gestures to illustrate the story of the prodigal son. Thus, it’s hard for me to encounter the story in today’s gospel passage without imagining it as a dance. In this miraculous dance between each of us and the divine, there’s no clear leader or follower. Each party takes initiative and makes a response until we find ourselves moving toward and with each other.
The son takes his first dance steps when he finds himself envious of pig food. He has squandered his share of his inheritance and now works for a foreigner feeding pigs. The passage tells us that the son then “came to himself” and said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father . . .”
The particular words, “he came to himself,” draw me in. Other translations have “returning to himself,” “realized what he was doing,” or the colloquial “came to his senses.” The point is, the prodigal son returns to himself; his father doesn’t hunt him down. The son makes a crucial turn on his own.
The father, for his part, takes steps toward the son while he is still at a distance: “while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” The father doesn’t wait until his son is on his doorstep, but eagerly closes the distance between them.
In the dances of our own lives, with others and with the divine, how can we close distances and take crucial turns? Instead of waiting for someone to chase us down, can we pivot back? Instead of making someone come to us, can we start running with an embrace while they’re still far off? Pray that we can join in the dance of today.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.