Growing up I never understood the story of the prodigal son. I mean, I knew the story, but I always identified more with the son who never strayed. Far from the perfect child, i was – however – the contrast to my sister. She was the popular cheerleader full of potential who was content (at 17) to do what she wanted, consequences be damned. I was the geek- good grades and extracurricular activities.

i watched with irritation as my parents tried to get my sister to understand what consequences were and why she should care. And success or failure at driving that message home – driving it always ensured time and attention directed her way. She was, in my estimation, our family’s prodigal daughter without ever having left home.

Please understand, I was never short of love or attention by any means. Even then i knew it wasn’t favoritism, it’s just the point in anticipation of my counterpoint. Fast-forward 10 years and i am the prodigal child. Youthful ways discarded, my sister became an amazing wife-mother-woman.

All of a sudden i’m on the receiving end of extra time and attention and resources. And much like with my sister- my parents never say a word. Simply offer up what they can and try to help me to remember i haven’t always been and won’t always be their prodigal daughter.

Being on the other side now allows me an understanding of all the players in a prodigal tale. Parents and children alike looking for love – looking to show love in whatever ways it can be received. And seeing the world through both the story’s characters helps me to understand it in a way i never did when i was younger. Understand it and see those roles, and my reaction to them, unfold in other ways.

Sometimes friendships are prodigal tales of their own; old lost love revived in a wave of nostalgia and regret at all the lost time. I recently had a friend return to my life. More than the FB catch-up, we’ve begun building an “us” again. So many years behind us, we can neither pretend to start anew nor rely too heavily on what was. Instead we are constructing some hybrid of past and future. And i’m loving it.

Still, there are people in my life who never faded away…my kindreds. People who have not received a joyous reception because they have been here in my day to day life, laughing and arguing and offering love without pause.

The thing is- there is beauty in both. Beauty in the still staid love; grace in that which returns. One providing faith in the ability of love to remain despite life running off in its many directions- the other offering proof that that which we sometimes lose can be found again.

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