The reality of it is surreal.  Everyone is a prodigal.  We all go on our own, choose our own ways.  The plight of human beings is that we’re estranged.  Estranged from each other, estranged from ourselves, and especially estranged from our Creator, God.  This season, I’m reminded that the latter comment is why we’re suffering from the former two.

My mother walked away from her faith.  She grew up in the church as her father, Charles Romaine was an Episcopalian priest.  She loved her father dearly, and when he was involved in a car crash and subsequently passed away, she got mad and left God.  The story I was given is that my grandfather was working in the deep South and crossing some racial boundaries with the civil rights movement.  When he was in an accident, the consensus was that he bled out on the table… on purpose. 

She was very angry that God would allow her dad, who was doing His work, to die like that.  She walked away and didn’t take a second thought about it.  Many of us in our own ways have done  just that.  Perhaps with major conflicts or minor uncomforts, we have all chosen to walk away when something that we wanted didn’t happen.  Yet, deep down, most of us revisit those places time and time again.  My mother did when I was born, and also when my brother was born.  But, until that basic understanding of who God really is changed… she remained outside His presence.  Or perhaps, more correctly, He remained outside hers.  

I’m a temporary sort of soul.  I’ve walked away from many things and many people over the years.  I’ve even walked away from God in big and small ways.  I suppose I’m no different when it comes to that.

All of us during this time of year, if we’re honest with ourselves, tend to think in those abstract thoughts.  The future, the past, ramifications, consequences, hope and fear.  We evaluate the reasons why we have walked away, and evaluate the things and people away from which we have walked.

Why do we come back?  What motivates us to consider returning?

What keeps us away?  Why is it that we don’t come back when we know we should?

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