The Prodigal’s Mother Speaks to God
the straps of his sandals broken,
his robe stained with wine,
it was not as easy to forgive.
By then his father
was long gone himself,
leaving me with my other son, the sullen one
whose anger is the instrument he tunes
from good morning on.
There’s no room for a man
in the womb.
But when I saw my youngest coming from far off,
so small he seemed, a kid
unsteady on its legs.
what will you do? I thought,
remembering when he learned to walk.
Shape shifter! It’s like looking through water—
the heat bends, it blurs everything: brush, precipice.
A shambles between us.
I am so grateful that #50 landed on a Sunday morning. I am so grateful to close this chapter of my writing with another poem, poetry having become such a profound consolation to me these last many years. I am so grateful to have fallen into the grace of this poem, one that encouraged and allowed me to conclude these “50 Ideas Worth Fighting For” with “forgiveness.”
Could there be an act both more vulnerable and more generous than that of forgiveness? Could there be a time – not in my lifetime – when forgiveness is both more necessary and more challenging? Could there be – might there be – a swelling of vulnerability and compassion that leads to more forgiveness as a result of this extraordinary, frightening time?
We are all connected which means that we, by the very definition of connection, are vulnerable to one another. We go to great lengths pretending that we are not but that is just not so.
We will continue to trample on one another’s vulnerability, that is the human way. Which means we must continue to rely on forgiveness to restore ourselves into the loving embrace of those on whom we so rightly depend.
We can begin by forgiving ourselves for whatever ways we feel we have failed, for whatever ways we feel ashamed, for whatever ways we have hurt another. In doing so, we can wrestle with the hard, hard truth that as we travel that inner journey of self-forgiveness we are building the capacity to forgive others and to help them return it.
Forgiveness is imperfect, always incomplete and always ongoing. It is also the greatest gift we can give or receive.
Please forgive. That is all I ask of you.
To hear the brief and beautiful meditation on this poem that inspired me to share it with you, please visit Poetry Unbound.