Lent Course. Observing Lent through Art and Prayer.2023
“The Father 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 tenderly. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quick, bring out a robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, we are going to have a feast and a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and is found They began to celebrate. Now the older son was in the fields; and on his way back he heard music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what was all about. “Your brother has come,” replied the servant, “and your father has killed the calf he had fattened, because he has got him back safe and sound.”
He was angry and refused to go in. But his father came out to plead with him. But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I have slaved for you, and never once disobeyed your orders; yet you never offered me so much as kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property, he and his women, you killed the calf we have been fattening. The father said, “my son, you are with me always, and all I have is yours. But it was only right that we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.” Spend a few minutes looking at Rembrandt’s portrayal of the Father. What strikes you about the figure? Look particularly at the hands. Is there any different among them? What does the picture say about the nature of God? We suggest that you stop now, and when you are ready, spend a few moments sharing your reflections together…God does not compare his children with each other. He loves them all, regardless of gifts and achievements. The Father’s free and generous response to his younger son’s return does not involve any comparison of his older son. To the contrary, he ardently desires to make his older son part of his joy…In all three parables that Jesus puts in response to the question -why he eats with sinners he puts the emphasis on God’s initiative. God is the shepherd who goes looking for his lost sheep; God is the woman who lights a lamp, sweeps up the house and searches everywhere for the lost coin until she’s found it. God is the father who watches and waits for his children. He runs out to meet them, embraces them, pleads with them, begs and urges them to come home It might sound strange, but God wants to find me as much as, if not more, I want to find God. Yeah, God needs me as much as I need God. " The Return of the Prodigal Son, Lent Course, Henri Nouwen
Poem My mind is a brick and nothing gets through; the porous sponge of my youth is desiccated into a slab of stone. Painting the ashes on such a surface is an idle act or leap of faith by the bestower; for the mind while receiving this mortal dust of sacrifice is wandering through the temple maze of sellers wondering what to buy, eat in the morrow. Well, there’ll be no sugar, caffeine, or even meat. The beans will need soaking, and the fish bought fresh. The sermon is about a recalcitrant camel made to suckle its mutant offspring, an oversized albino calf whose onerous birth caused the mother’s heart to harden, become indifferent. My mind is that heart. The shepherd hire musicians, sing and rub the poor mother’s neck, and finally, teardrops glisten in that old naga ’s eyes and she is made to look on her child as if it were her own for the very first time. The brick now sodden with tears will keep in the moisture longer than you think, and when through the doors of the church I slip into the world the ash will be in me like in the sea. At the Beginning of Lent: Ash Wednesday Sally Ito (1964-) A Century of Poetry for searching the heart, RowanWilliams, p.141-2