You Can Go Home Again

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The Prodigal Son wanted to go home, but he was sure he wouldn’t be accepted there after screwing up so badly. However, when he walked down the road to his father’s place, he was welcomed with open arms.

I never understood this story. It sounded like bad parenting. My son Mathias had to explain it to me “It’s a parable, Dad,” he reminded me. “He’s not a real father. It’s about how God or life will always take you back.”

Spiritual writer Stephen Mitchell called the Prodigal Son “one of the most healing stories ever told.” You might be on drugs, in prison, selling your body on the street. You might be a corporate lawyer, an oil executive, or be similarly lost, but you can always go home, and it’s not that hard. God will always take you back, because God is within you.

Remember this story is a fable. In our lives, home may not be a familiar physical place or people you know. You might never have felt at home in your family in the first place. That’s why the healing journey is necessary. It frees you from the boxes that life puts your soul in.

It’s Not That Hard

No matter how lost and desperate we are as individuals or as a society, I think there is a home for us. Look at the Prodigal Son. He was living in a pigsty, and it was all his own fault. Why would anyone take him back? Turned out that all he had to do was walk down the road.

An even more striking version of this allegory is the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy spends the whole book/movie trying to get home. She faces terrible dangers, following the advice of a charlatan wizard who couldn’t help her. It turns out that she had the ability to go home any time she wanted, just by clicking her heels together.

But the instructive thing is what happens when she gets home. Her journey had all been a dream. All she had to do was wake up.

All we have to do is wake up. My meditation teacher Marc says these stories are metaphors for the human condition. We went from being at home in our bodies, in Nature, on this planet, taken care of by the Tao or Mother Nature or God or however you call the world. We leave that home when we fall into dreams of flashy excitement in a City run by phony wizards. We can’t help it, since all of human society lives in that dream. The modern world is an illusion factory, churning out an endless torrent of irresistible dreams.

But the dream is killing us and our Home. And we’re not stuck in the dream. All we have to do is wake up. Meditation is a good way to wake up. Service to others is a good road home; so is spending time in nature.

Lao-Tzu wrote,

“Only when you are sick of being sick
Can you be well.”
(Chapter 71)

Only when we realize we are lost can we find our way home. Realizing it is the hard part.  When we do, we are ready for Act 2. I wish you well on this phase of your journey.

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12 Responses to You Can Go Home Again

  1. Burt Feuerstein says:

    Good to read and think about this, David. Thank you.

  2. Dick Heiser says:

    Best wishes to Marlon!
    It won’t be easy, but getting angry won’t help. There’s so much unfairness in the world for a person with a record, but stability and patience are the answer.
    I’ll be thinking about you, and wishing you success!

  3. Roger Eaton says:

    The answers to deep questions are never spot on. I like clicking one’s heels as a way to go home – there is a kindly sense of humor behind the notion!

  4. Toni Gilbert says:

    David, Nice story and so true. Toni

  5. Seems to me that the expression about not being able to go home has more to do with the passage of time and the changes which are inevitable making the idea of retreat to a world we remember fondly, and often erroneously, a fantasy we all indulge in when times get tough. It is a longing for simpler, more gentle times seen through the perspective of one’s imagination. Simpler, gentler times for one may have been hell for people such as your friend Marlon. The road back for Marlon will be very difficult, and I wish him all the best on his strenuous journey back to the world that never showed him much mercy or kindness. I know you will be his true friend, David – nice article.

  6. Esther Roberts says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and Marlon’s story as you have David. I hope so much that he can find the kind people waiting out there who were not available when he was younger.

    Your insights into people’s lives and our human experience is always something that moves me deeply. There is a sincerity and laser integrity in your writing that has a way of going straight to my heart. Thank you so much.

  7. Salome Hancock says:

    a thoughtful piece, thank you. Marlon stands for a lot. big quandaries he faced up to and found personal route through to finding himself. finding that assurance that we are alright in the midst of pain and fears and worries is exactly what we all need, want, deserve. we all have that potential, too- no matter what. finding our way toward and into it is our life journey. there is a force outside and inside us — how to tap it is what our lives are about. life opens new, clean, and full of possibility when we can do that. i’m working on it! salome

  8. Lynn says:

    Very nice read, david. Thank you for sharing this writing piece. Love the parables. Your writing resonates with me. It answers questions, and helps me as I am finding home through living sloe to and spending time in nature, through providing service to others.

  9. Anh says:

    David, thank you for sharing your insights and wisdom.

    Your essay reminds each of us to live more mindfully, and to reflect on, “What is Wisdom?”

    I feel grateful, David, to read your essay.

  10. Angelee says:

    I kept the notice of your current blog post in my inbox for days like a special gift to open only when I had the time and quietude to fully savor. It did not disappoint, and is so relevant to the journey I am now on. Wonderful reminders. Thank you for touching my heart yet again.

  11. Sekani says:

    Nice piece, Dad.

    I don’t know if this fits the theme, but I’ve been feeling more at home in The Mission by accepting the changes, honoring my memories of the past, and relaxing in the fact that I’m still a part of the neighborhood.

    If I have to leave, it will be a pain in the neck, but building a new home is possible too.

  12. Pingback: The World Comes to Your Aid | The Inn by the Healing Path

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