Letter of the Prodigal Son

From an Unknown Author
Dear Father,

I am still overwhelmed by the events of this day. The night is late and yet I can’t sleep. After my long absence, I am back here with you. Still, I find it hard to believe that I have returned to this house, your home that I once cursed and vowed to forget.

Remember that day when I decided to leave you? I thought then that it was the happiest day of my life. I got my inheritance. Finally, I could live away from you. I was free: a young man wanting to live a life of his own. Isn’t this only natural and even proper?

I will not forget the night when I told you about my decision to leave. Although there were no traces of pain or resentment on your face, your eyes revealed sorrow. For the first time in my life, I saw tears in your eyes. It is not my leaving that offended you. It was the sense that I had lost my love for you. It was the feeling that I was beginning to wish you ill, to want you dead. How could a son not love a father like you? Where does the fault lie? Is human nature so corrupt that it often fails to return goodness for goodness, love for love? Am I so wicked that your love failed to make me into the ideal son you wanted me to be? What makes a man so insensitive, so irrational that he acts against what is good and proper? Why do I take pleasure in seeing you hurt?

Yet there was a time when I felt so close to you.. I remember those cold evenings we spent talking, our morning walks in the field while we enjoyed the sight of the rising sun. I was your child then, and you seemed to have all the answers to my questions. I could not imagine not needing you. To be far from you then was my greatest fear.

But you did not make yourself indispensable. You could have brainwashed me into thinking that happiness lies in you alone. Instead, you gave me freedom. You trained my mind to think. You nurtured my heart by showing me the other dimensions of love outside yourself. You gave me freedom. More than my inheritance, freedom was your greatest gift.

Ironically, I used what you gave me to build a prison, not a garden. I used my freedom to unlove, not to love. Had there been no tragedy in my life, would I have thought of returning? Supposing I did not lose my wealth, would I have decided to come back to you? Is my freedom to love conditioned by consequences?

But the real tragedy of my life would still remain even if my wayward life turned out to be successful. I have lost you and your love. I knew I was unhappy in spite of the happiness I claim to have.

It was the need to survive that made me return. I admit that it was not love that brought me back. The world I loved shunned me when I fell from the pedestal that I myself built. Even well-meaning friends could not heal my inner wound. How can I ever believe in the assurance of people that all shall be well and things will be better when they themselves live in uncertainty and doubt, in fear and anxiety?

Then, at a time of great distress and despair, I thought about you. Surely, you can accept me even as a slave. From afar I insulted your goodness, for I thought that you’d never accept me as your son.

Upon my return, I saw our house from a distance. It seemed to be waiting for me. Yet, I felt terribly afraid, alone and confused. When I saw a figure of a man dashing toward me, I assumed that you ordered a servant to prevent me from returning. I resigned myself to this fate, for after all, I deserve nothing from you. To my greatest surprise, I realized that the man running toward me was you. Before I knew it, I was already in your arms.

Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.

Your Son

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