A Robe, a Ring and a Role
For several days now I have contemplated my role in life going forward. This Red Zone era of aging is an amazing gift. One has had plenty of time to fail, life’s greatest teacher! It’s the slow process of getting back up that affords one a true measure of their inner self.
Likewise, with aging, the number of unique people with whom one has been allowed to interact builds quite a wealth of skills. The latter can offer a seductive tendency to manipulate others; but through grace can also afford a deep empathy for one’s own brokenness. Brokenness is perhaps the only salve sufficient for the wounds of the sage; for sure the source of any wisdom.
My title comes from Luke’s Gospel, the parable of the prodigal, an amazing story of the Father’s love. In my mind, it has always provided an image of a compassionate responsible elder, standing in the middle of a dusty road awaiting the return of the long lost son whom he has never stopped loving.
A truly repentant son is gathered in the arms of this remarkable Dad, who then lavishes the irresponsible one with blessing. What an image of the God whom Christ demonstrated. I picture the son’s face buried in the bosom of his Dad, instructions being given simultaneously. “Bring the best robe, kill the fatted calf,” the one recently stalled for this highly anticipated and well discerned moment.
A signet ring is then placed on the vagabond’s finger and new sandals provided for his worn, tired feet; by now, bathed and massaged by the very fingers of the father.
Almost instantly the young man is restored! His outer appearance has quickly gone from soiled rags to royal garments. His authority has been reinstated, all signs of poverty long gone, the full influence of his father is now his!
Ironically, I am not as young as I was the first time I read this story, nor perhaps did I fully grasp its truths. Yet, the beauty is that those truths transcend time. What once brought a sense of privilege to a young man in his twenties, now speaks to that same man in his sixties. This time however, my role has changed. I am no longer the prodigal son, but the man in the middle of the road, offering solace and grace to those desiring to return to the Father.
Perhaps my learnings can bring value, though never quite sufficient to repay the loss that might otherwise have been prevented had I returned “home” whole or had never left!
Aging has a way of bringing perspective. God help me to live into it!