Returning Home
The Inner Journey of the Prodigal

By Sharon Grussendorff

In this talk we will be reflecting on the parable of the prodigal son from the perspective of the inner journey.

Opening Music: Come Back to Me

As you listen to the following song by Enya, hear the call of the Beloved "Come back to me"

Dark Sky IslandEnya
00:00 / 05:00

Lyrics:

Listen to the waves speak up
The blue voice of the sea
And they whisper as they touch the shore
Come back to me
Come back to me

Boat by boat upon the waves
All come to find the light
In the darkness of the sky above
Come back to me
Come back to me

Capella, Auriga
Eta Carinae, Sagitta
Aquila, Alpha Centauri

Twilight comes to close the day
And let the night break free
And from deep blue skies the heavens rise
Come back to me
Come back to me

Capella, Auriga....

Moonlight brings the ocean's storms
Like waves upon the sea
And the midnight shore calls out once more
Come back to me

Come back to me

Spirit Breath Wind
Talk: Returning home

The following is a guided time of prayer for returning home:  

Guided Prayer: Returning home
00:00 / 06:00

Spend some time reading and reflecting on this parable for yourself:

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Spend some time quietly and attentively looking at the paintings below, by the artists Hyatt Moore and Rembrandt van Rijn, respectively, as a kind of visual meditation. You could choose to focus on the one that most resonates with you, or look at both of them, and see what they evoke in you. You could listen to the music track below as accompaniment: 

Ta Mi Mo Shui (I Am Sitting)Evanthia Reboutsika
00:00 / 03:44

Questions for reflection:

 

  • In this next week, notice all of the things that take you away from being at home where you are. What are some of your typical thought patterns and virtual realities of your mind? 

  • How do you act like the older brother in this parable, scolding yourself for your waywardness, and in so doing missing the opportunity for grace and a warm homecoming to God?

  • Can you identify any unsettling questions that the Spirit may have brought to you in this lock-down period? 

  • How can you be faithful to the quiet moments where you return to presence, opening myself to the welcoming embrace of the always present Father/Mother?

Open yourself to a regular time of listening in silence to the invitation to return home to the waiting presence of God within you, longing to welcome you home.

Below are some of the quotes from the talk for you to reflect on further:

Martin Laird:

Union with God is not something we acquire by a technique but the grounding truth of our lives that engenders the very search for God.  Because God is the ground of our being, the relationship between creature and Creator is such that, by sheer grace, separation is not possible.  God does not know how to be absent.

Llewellyn Vaughan Lee:

There are many people who feel the unhappiness of a homesick soul and yet do not know its cause. They do not realize the wonder of their pain, that it is their heart's longing that will take them Home. … The heart longs for God, and seeks to find its true Beloved. If we follow our longing, if we allow ourself to be pierced by the pain of separation from the source, we will be drawn back to God.

Henri Nouwen:

There is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: “You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests.”  Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: “I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. I have moulded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.”

Ending prayer poem:  

In returning and rest is your salvation; all we have to do is return.

So simple, so warm and welcoming.

But the far off lands in my mind arrest my attention,

 like the bling of this prodigal's wanderings.

Maybe we overlook home because it is always here.

Maybe we scorn the affection of the father

 because it is too readily available,

 like the gentle singing of a mother in the background,

 so faithful and familiar we don't notice it any more.

The warmth of the morning sun fails to comfort us,

 the gentle caress of the breeze fails to stir our hearts with delight,

 the beauty of the Beloved's face in the sunrise

 fails to get us out of our beds,

 because we know he will always be there,

 faithfully offering us a new day,

 breathing her breath into us, with this breath.

May we listen for the voice that quietly whispers with the morning breeze:

"You are my beloved child. I am well pleased to welcome you home."

To conclude this morning's reflections, listen to the following song called Song of Solomon, by Martin Smith. The first version below is a shorter one that I have edited, as the longer version gets rather rowdy, but I included that for those of you who don't mind loud music:

Song of Solomon shortenedMartin Smith
00:00 / 02:39
Song of Solomon fullMartin Smith
00:00 / 06:27

Song lyrics:

When I feel the cold of winter
In this cloak of sadness, I need You
Oh the evil things that shake me
All the words that break me I need You

Over the mountains, over the sea
Here You come running, my Lover to me

Do not hide me from Your presence
Pull me from these shadows, I need You
Beauty wrap Your arms around me
Sing Your song of courage, I need You

Over the mountains, over the sea
Here You come running, my Lover to me
Oh, through the valleys, through the dark of night
Here You come running, to hold me till it's light

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