The older son’s prayer

          “Father, for all these years I have been working like a slave for you,          
         and I have never disobeyed your command;          
         yet you have never given me even a young goat          
         so that I might celebrate with my friends.          
         But when this son of yours came back,          
         who has devoured your property with prostitutes,          
         you killed the fatted calf for him!”

                  —Luke 15.29-30

I am older now.
I have done my running and returning.
Or never did, and regret it.

I ran without leaving,
and without returning.

Like my younger self
I have not sought you—
just your providence.
Like him I have not been a son to you
but a slave.
Like him I profess
why I should not come in to your house.

Forgive my self-righteous prayer.
Forgive me that I obeyed but did not love.
Forgive my belief in deserving—
both his and mine.
Forgive my leaving
for the far country of my anger.

Forgive my disinterest
in what pain made him flee,
what he suffered, what he learned,
what made him return.
Forgive me that I can’t yet say
that I missed him,
that I was afraid to be afraid for him.

Forgive my refusal to be kin
of those who seek, who wander,
who do not enslave themselves like I.
Forgive my envy of those
who receive you so easily,
my resentment of those who are forgiven.

Forgive me, and give me grace
to forgive him, to forgive you,
and grace even deeper to forgive
myself in my self-enclosure.
Defy my pious rant,
and bring me in to the party.
Make me your son after all,
for no reason but love.
Make me his brother,
for our sake.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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