‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ [Luke 5:18-19]
Before the “prodigal” son could return home, he had to see himself and his situation. This is that epiphany moment when everything that has been fuzzy is clear, when the justifications no longer work, when the excuses are exposed as lame, when truth wins. And in that moment, there is a choice, to continue along the same path or turn around.
It’s hard to turn around because that journey may mean going over the same ground traveled once before: in essence, a review of those older choices. The road appears even longer on the way back. Did I really do that? Did I really say that? Did I really come this far?
And that is the question, isn’t it? Did I really?
It’s too easy to lose sight of what is happening on that “road to perdition.” What might have appalled the first time becomes common place. The shock wears off and soon, circumstances become the norm.
Like the story of the frog who drowns in the pot of water, slowly heating up.
Of course, not every return is from the pit of hell (although sometimes, it’s clearer, what needs to happen next). Some returns are closer at hand. Sometimes, it’s just a prayer life that has gotten bland and superficial, where more time is spent at a meal prayer than at the feet of Christ. Sometimes, it’s a type of laziness, a depression that is not clinical, but woos all the same: to lie there in the curve of the sheets or the indent of the couch, to cuddle into the hollow of the chair.
Home in Christ is not passive by nature. When it is, something is amiss. Why have I allowed it to become so wishy-washy? Why has my faith become so tame, so compliant? So lacking in joy and transformative power? It’s not bad or evil, my situation. I mean, I’m not wallowing in pig slime or sin. I’m boring today.
I’m a boring believer. Sluggish. It’s my own miniature of the “dark night of the soul.” I don’t believe God or the Presence is missing. Of course. It is I who have gone somewhat AWOL. Perhaps it was the busy few days, the travel, the change in schedule that has plunged me into this lassitude. Or, it’s the pesky virus that hangs on to my head and sinuses, who drives me to sleep. In any case, I feel prodigal and dissipated by it.
So, what to do?
Call it for what it is. That’s first. Then I can turn around. Maybe tomorrow.