I can’t stop thinking of the Prodigal son…and of all the other characters involved including his father, older brother, and even his mother. Where was she? Was she inside preparing some of her son’s favorite dishes? What about when he first appeared on the horizon? Had she been watching and praying? When he arrived, did she go outside to see what the ruckus was all about? Was she allowed to fall on his neck and kiss him too?

I’ll focus on the mother another day. Today I’m thinking of the relationship between father and son. I’m zeroing in on them because of a conversation that I had with Elizabeth and Paul last week as we enjoyed a meal together. Curious about family furniture, Paul began asking questions about who got what and why. How did his older sister end up with the dining room table and chairs? And why did his other sister have Granny’s furniture, including the very table we were sitting around that day?

“The green leather couch is mine, right?” he asked. I told him that I was currently using and enjoying that couch but that I’d make sure that he wouldn’t be  forgotten when the time came to give away family possessions. In fact, without even thinking about it, the words of the Prodigal’s father came to mind, and I said, “Don’t you know that all that I have is thine?” He recognized the phrase immediately, and we chatted briefly about the story.

Although Paul isn’t the older son who’s been loyally working for years without even one fatted calf being prepared in his honor, he’s a human being who wonders, like all of us, how it seems that some people appear to have more than we do. I’ve read and listened to much commentary on the older brother’s attitude, and many see him as whiney and ungrateful. I see him as human. I also see that despite feeling left out and passed over, he feels secure enough in his relationship with his father to ask questions about his perceived mistreatment.

My children are all huge Harry Potter fans, and I’m feeling a little like the Prodigal’s older brother this morning. Have any of you ever wondered why J.K Rowling is a billionaire and you’re not?

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