A Prodigal Constraint
by Stephanie H
My dearest, most beloved son whom I have forgiven,
Please do me the kindness of reading this letter through to its end. Do not be afraid of the words I have written in it. Do not be afraid of what I will think of you for having read them. I love you, my son. It is a fact that will never change. You are as dear to me as a son now as you were when you were born, when you left home, and when you returned. I welcomed you with all that I have. Do you still not believe it?
The first days after your return, there was joy and peace over your entire face like sunshine. What crept into you after that? You grew quiet when I would enter the room. I would hear you as you told your brother of the time we had spent together, but you held your tongue whenever I joined you, and refused to meet my eyes. When I ask, you tell me everything is fine. You made excuses then, now you only mumble. I am not blaming you. My dear son, you have not failed me. I see your fear at what I might say, but how can I comfort you if you will not let me in?
You know that I found your ring back in the chest where I used to keep it. I wish that you would keep it. I gave it to you as a reminder of my love. Have you forgotten? I love you, my son. Yes, you are my son. That will never change. You could not hide it when you stopped wearing the robes that I gave you. Do you mean to prove that I have not loved you after all? You cannot convince me that you are too much a failure that I cannot love you. I will always love you. If scrubbing the floor instead of eating at my table, mucking the stall instead of riding your donkey, and sleeping on the floor instead of your bed are not enough to prove your humility, will you run away from home again? I cannot help you if you force me away.
How could I not see your earring? Would you declare your loyalty to me as a slave when I have offered to you my heart and everything that I own? Oh, how it grieves me! You know as well as your brother the number of servants in my pay. Shall I lose a son that I would gain a stable boy? The work I taught you when you were young was so that we could be father and son together. Every task I desire is done at the snap of my fingers, if that were what I desired. I desire your love infinitely more than your gestures of humiliation. My son, I love you. Why will you not spend time with me?
What will it cost to prove to yourself that you have repaid me? Do you count the hours you have worked as wages with which you could replace what you lost in your days of sin? Do the tears that you hide come when you weigh yourself against a vanished fortune and find yourself wanting? It is true, the loss was great. Beloved son, I forgave you that debt. Even if it were small enough to be repaid, would I choose to gain back a few tarnished coins rather than receive the son of my own blood? I have made the way for you to return to me. Do not weep to think that your hard labors are your only hope for salvation. You would see it if only you would come into the light.
There are so many things that I have wanted to share with you these past years. The joyful hours we were meant to spend together while you were lost, now again waiting for you while you work yourself to exhaustion. If you will come with me, they are still waiting for us. It is not too late. I have asked your brother and sisters to tell you the same. You still speak to them, but they have yet to convince you. Have you not seen how I have forgiven them their faults? Why should you be any less precious to me, my beloved son? I received you with open arms when you returned to my house. Will you forever shy away from my heart? Please, come home to me.
I love you eternally,