Maybe addiction isn’t just for substance abusers

Here’s a rule – if you choose to ignore good advice, you don’t have the right to complain about the results.

If you eat mostly meat and drink sodas, you will get kidney stones. This is an expected result. If you know better and refuse to change then you are stupid. You are not ignorant because you know better. You’re willful and childish. It is crazy behavior.

This is my working out my anger at a friend who repeatedly has kidney stones and complains about them. They are very painful and keep him from living his life. Or perhaps this is the life he wants – a life of pain, of feeling victimized – that this just keeps happening. I realized I was very angry about this behavior of his, and dug deeper.

I realized that part of it is that I’m still angry because my Mom was so surprised that she was dying from lung cancer. She smoked two packs a day of cigarettes for 20 years. Duh. Of course she got lung cancer. She should have known better. So many people act like this.

Addiction isn’t just about abusing substances. It is about maladaptive techniques for living life. It isn’t just about using drugs or alcohol. It is about loving pain more than loving being healed.

I’m angry because I got out of my hole of addiction and I keep seeing friends in their holes, wailing. They want attention, but not help. They want to be noticed, to have people feel sorry for them. I have to stop listening because I feel so upset when I hear them like this. It is almost as if they are celebrating their pain. I was obese, addicted to pot, and I smoked clove cigarettes. I got myself out of that terrible place, slowly but surely.

It is possible to get out of the jails we put ourselves in as soon as we admit that we are the ones who put ourselves there. We have the keys.

How are we as a culture so asleep as to cause-and-effect? I’m angry how often people complain “My head hurts” (metaphorically), so the answer is to quit banging it against the wall. We are our own worst enemies. I cannot stand listening to addicts. I was one. I got over it. Grow up. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot spend all your money and still have savings for retirement or emergencies. You cannot have a lifetime of inactivity and expect to be healthy.

Americans are willfully ignorant of cause-and-effect. They think poverty / illness / death happens to other people. Or that it is somebody else’s fault or responsibility. They blame someone else (parents, their boss, the government, for instance) for their being in that situation or demand that someone else (often the same list of people) get them out of it. These are all lies. They are all habits of addicts. It is so frustrating to watch people kill themselves slowly.

It is like we are in an abusive relationship with ourselves, and nobody is willing to tell us. Consider when you have a friend who’s dating a guy who is a jerk. He steals her money, talks bad about her, he makes her feel like she’s no good or makes her feel like she can’t do anything without him. All of her friends see this and yet they don’t tell her because they’re under this collective lie that she’ll just ignore their words. They believe that she has to figure out her problems on her own. But what if she lacks perspective to know that she has value and that there is a choice, that there is a way out?

I think it’s cruel to say nothing when you see someone hitting their head against the wall when the door is right next to them.

I think that it is not the sign of a friend to let someone continue to abuse themselves without showing them that there is a safe way out of their problems.

Now once someone has been shown how to take care of himself, been shown the doorway out of the room that they were trapped in, then it is up to them to take the next steps. You cannot shove someone through the door but it is perfectly loving to tell them that there is one.

Part of the problem of recovery is that not every door works for every person. It is like diets. Some people have to have a raw diet, while some people have to have a macrobiotic diet. Some people need to grow their own food, while others feel they don’t have the time to do it and go to grocery store. Somewhere in the middle are those who go to the farmer’s market. Every person has their own path and it’s important to remember that their path is theirs and theirs alone.

There is a fine line between compassion and codependency, and I don’t know where that is.

So in the meantime, I’ve “unfollowed” a lot of friends on Facebook, rather than hear them complain about their lives. I want to rescue them, to kidnap them. I want to force them to learn how to get better, because I think that will help me get better. Maybe I’ll get “a star on my crown” if I heal them. But I can barely take care of myself.

Careful in that car

There’s something about driving that makes you forget what you’re doing. It is easy to get lulled into a sense that driving is more like watching a movie or playing a video game than real.  Perhaps it is the climate control so you don’t have to experience the weather.  Perhaps it is the good suspension that smooths out every bump so you don’t experience the road.  It is easy to forget that the other cars on the road are real and filled with people. It is easy to forget that one wrong move and someone will die.

 

The most aggressive drivers on the road are those who drive large trucks, like Ford F-150s. They are so high above and removed from everyone else that they seem to forget that there is anyone else on the road. These vehicles are very sturdy and give a sense of protection to the driver, but result in a sense of threat to everyone else, because the driver often drives as if he is the only person on the road.

 

I think it’s a good idea to have a car that has lightweight doors that make you realize how fragile and how thin your protection is between you and other cars. I think it’s a good idea to have a car that doesn’t have quick acceleration so you don’t feel you can cut off other drivers. A slow car makes you wait for an opening rather than forcing one. I think it’s a good idea to think of your car as a two thousand pound weapon. This way you will be considerate on the road.

 

When you ride a motorcycle you are fully in the elements. You are made aware of every moment and everything has to be done very carefully and mindfully or you will get hurt. The same is true for bicyclists or walkers.  The less you have between you and others, the more careful you have to be, but also the more considerate.  Imagine how many fewer accidents there would be if everyone drove as if they had the same level of protection as a motorcyclist.

 

What if we all had one 800 numbers on the back of our cars saying “How am I driving?” How many of us would get complaints? What if police pulled people over for driving well? How many of us would get stopped then?

 

Here is a prayer to be said before starting your car:

Lord, help me to remember to be careful on this road. Help me to remember to look out for the safety of myself and for others. Help me to drive in a way that would bring honor to you.  Amen.

Thoughts on the latest terror attack

In this time of unrest, let us listen to these wise words from people from all over the world and all across time. Let us remember that we have a choice.

“Heracles was journeying on a narrow road when he saw what looked like an apple on the ground. When he stepped on it, the object instantly became twice as big. Seeing the extraordinary growth, Heracles stepped on it with both feet and smashed it mightily with his club. As result, the thing expanded so rapidly it blocked the road. Heracles threw down his club and stared at it dumbfounded.

The goddess Athena appeared to him then and said, “Dear brother, leave that thing alone! It is the spirit of argument and disharmony. If you keep from touching it, it can do no harm. But, as you have seen, if you try to fight, it only grows greater.” – Fable of Aesop.

“Rabbi Akiva traveled with a donkey to lighten his load, a rooster to awaken him at dawn, and an oil lamp to study by at night. He trusted in God and believed that all God does is for the good. One day, God made it that Rabbi Akiva arrived at a town after the gates have been closed, so he had to sleep outside in the dangerous woods. When he, at last, sat down to study by the light of his lamp, a great wind arose and blew it out. So, saying to himself “All is for the good,” he lay down to sleep, confident that the rooster would wake him early the next morning.

But then a fox came and carried the rooster away. Rabbi Akiva said, “This too will be for the good,” and with that fell asleep. In the middle of the night, a lion pounced on the donkey and devoured the animal before it made a sound. Rabbi Akiva mourned over the life of his donkey, but saying “Everything is surely for the good,” he found joy and comfort and returned to a deep sleep.

When Rabbi Akiva awoke in the morning, he saw that the town had been attacked and burned to the ground. “See,” he said, “all is truly for the good. If I had gained entry into the town, or if my lamp had remained bright, or if my rooster had crowed, or my donkey had brayed, these attackers who destroyed the town would have certainly come after me, too!” – Traditional Jewish story.

“Ambrosia can be extracted even from poison;
elegant speech even from a child;
good conduct even from an enemy;
gold even from impurity.”
-from the Laws of Manu (sacred text of Hinduism)

“How far that little candle throws his beams.
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”
– William Shakespeare

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 5:38-40, HCSB translation)

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”
– Gandhi biographer Louis Fischer, summing up Gandhi’s view on the Hindu concept of “ahimsa”

We have a choice now. We are at a crossroads. We can choose life or death. We can choose to be present and aware. We can choose to love our neighbors. We can choose to not be afraid. We can choose to rise above, rise together. We can choose. We are not powerless.

This isn’t about race or religion or creed, not anymore. This has happened too often, in too many different ways. There have been more mass killings in this world than we can easily count. It has become our normal, this terror, this fear. Some male takes a gun and kills many people, all strangers, in a moment.

In the same way that it has become our present normal, it can become our past. This does not have to continue. All things change.

In the meantime, we must remember that we have a choice to remain calm. To listen to the stranger. To be open and welcoming. To forgive. To show love and compassion. We must remember that there are far more kind, compassionate, and loving people than we realize. They don’t get the press attention so we don’t notice them. Start looking for the good, and you will find it all around you.

We must embrace the “other”, the different one, and include rather than exclude. This is a time to unite, not divide. I do not mean for “Us” to unite against “Them” – but to have a “We” instead.

We have a choice. It is time.

Easter and Ostara

I have an opportunity this week to go to two different religious events that are not part of my faith tradition. They are being held at a Unitarian Universalist Church. I’m interested in other faith traditions and attending their events. I feel that we cannot truly “love our neighbors as ourselves” if we don’t know anything about them. It is important to know where we are both coming from.

But I’m conflicted. The first one is a Purim celebration. That is a Jewish festival, celebrating the defeat of people who wanted to kill the Jews. It centers around the story of Queen Esther. I’d like to attend because I’ve never participated in this festival, but do I want to do it at a place where they might not be doing it correctly? It might be more “show” than real, because the Unitarians aren’t Jewish. Going to a synagogue would be the best option if I want an authentic experience, but I don’t want them to feel threatened by the fact that I follow Jesus.

This then leads me to this thought. I find it interesting that the very things that the Jews hold against Jesus for why they can’t accept him as the Messiah aren’t true. They think it is blasphemous that he said he was God. But, he never said he was God. He said all the time that he was the Son of Man. He said he was the son of God, but said that we all are. They are also repulsed by the idea of human sacrifice, as well as the concept of sacrificing yourself for other people’s transgressions. I’ve not found anywhere that Jesus said he “died for our sins” – Paul said that, but he isn’t the Messiah. Jesus died out of obedience to God’s commandments, and to show us that death is not final.

I’m also little confused as to why the Unitarian Universalists even call themselves a “church” – as the term is associated with Christianity. If they want to be inclusive, then the word “church” is going to be a problem for the very people they are trying to attract. “Congregation” or “community” might be a better term for them. They don’t consider themselves particularly Christian, nor do they act in usual Christian ways. They don’t even mention Jesus or God in their services. They don’t read from Christian scriptures, and in some gatherings they don’t read from any scriptures from any faith tradition. They want to not offend anyone and be as inclusive as possible. This means that they have watered everything down so much that it doesn’t taste like anything at all. Sure, some Christians go there, but so do atheists and agnostics. How can it be a “church” if you can be a member and not even believe in God?

There is also going to be an Ostara celebration at the same place in the evening. This is the origin of the Easter celebration in Christian churches, where they celebrate Jesus being raised from the dead. But Ostara is most certainly a pagan celebration, not Christian. Is it appropriate for me, a disciple of Jesus, to go to?

What does the Bible say? When in doubt, it is good to look to good examples.

Paul, when asked if it was OK for Christians in the early church to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols said that it would not harm them, but that it could cause other members to falter in their faith.

1 Corinthians 8
About food offered to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 4 About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father.
All things are from Him,
and we exist for Him.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.
All things are through Him,
and we exist through Him.
7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat. 9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. 12 Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall.

Jesus said after being resurrected from the dead that we wouldn’t be harmed, even if we drank poison or handled snakes.
Mark 16:17-18
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; 18 they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly, it will never harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.”

Jesus did not separate himself from people and only associate with people who were “safe”. He constantly was challenged by the religious authorities who mocked him for “dining with sinners”. They said that if he was a prophet, he should know that the people he was hanging out with weren’t righteous. His answer to their challenge –

Mark 2:17
17 When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus touched and healed lepers. Nobody touched lepers – they lived apart from everyone else because their disease was so contagious. To touch a leper was to become one. Yet he touched them, along with those with other infirmities that were seen as socially stigmatizing.

Matthew 8:1-3
When He came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. 2 Right away a man with a serious skin disease came up and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 3 Reaching out His hand He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean.” Immediately his disease was healed.

I remember one time I went to a talk and guided meditation that was sponsored by a Hindu meditation group. The vast majority of the attendees were Caucasians. I felt OK listening to the talk, but very uncomfortable closing my eyes and participating in the group meditation, so I didn’t. Afterwards, the members all descended upon the newcomers and started questioning them in a manipulative way. Yet I had chosen to wear a necklace that had the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the image on the pendant. I used it as a way to show them a side of Jesus that they had never heard of, with Jesus being so open and vulnerable that he was willing to share his heart with the world. He didn’t hide who he was from people. He lived fearlessly.

So instead of being afraid that I’m going to be led astray by the Ostara celebration, perhaps I need to go as a representative of Christ. Perhaps I need to go in case there is an opportunity to show people who Jesus really is. But I still don’t know. I don’t want to “crash” their party. I don’t want to be “that Christian” who is rude and who covers over other traditions with her own. There are too many of those kinds of people. But, perhaps I am being called to go, to hang out with people who have either been excluded from the Church for being different, or have never heard the message of Jesus clearly.

I’m still praying about it, and I think this is always the path we need to take. We should always remember that it isn’t what we want to do, but what God wants us to do. Only through prayer and discernment can we know the difference. Only if we are truly following God can we do any good in this world.

(All Bible translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)

Turn away

I’ve seen several pictures of things that have really disturbed me recently, and rather than just turn away again, I’ve decided to meditate on exactly what I find repulsive about these pictures. This is part of my recent decision to be more mindful. It is not an easy practice, but it is necessary for being fully conscious and aware of my actions.

These images aren’t things that people normally would turn away from, such as violence or abuse for instance. Those are abhorrent as well, of course. What I’m writing about here are images of people who are in ICU, hooked up to machines and tubes. I never gave it a second thought as to why I was repulsed until I saw a video about a machine that can keep a heart alive outside of the body in preparation for transplant. That tipped the scales.

What disturbs me about it is not exactly the same as what disturbs me about the ICU pictures, but it is a good thing to start with. The donor was dead, as far as doctors could determine. The brain had ceased functioning. The heart had been removed, and rather than keep it on ice as was normally done in a transplant situation, it was hooked up to a machine that replicated the environment inside the chest. It was kept humid and warm, with blood circulating through it. This heart was beating just like a normal heart, but it was inside a plastic box. There was no person attached.

I also saw a video of two mothers who had a strange connection. Mother A had a young child who had suddenly died due to trauma. She had decided to donate his organs. Mother B’s child had received his heart. They met three years later and mother A used a stethoscope to hear the heart of her son beating inside the chest of Mother B’s daughter. It was supposed to be a touching video, but I was really disturbed. Something seemed deeply wrong about this.

I kept being triggered by these images. I decided to examine the original related triggers – images of people in ICU. I don’t seek these out – people share them sometimes on social media as part of a story.

One was about a new mother who had been in an accident and the nurse brought her child to her so she could breastfeed her child. While the person who posted it was pointing out the value of breastfeeding, it was very disturbing. The mother was not present in any form other than her body. She was not being helped to breastfeed. The nurse put the child to her breast and that was it.

I look at a sketching website every day, and today there was one of a man in ICU. The sketcher even commented about it, wondering if it was ethically correct to sketch such a thing. He did not mention if he’d thought about the ethics of sharing it online as well.

I read something recently that speaks to all of this in a useful way.

There is a Jewish belief that it is improper to have an open casket. To do so is to violate the privacy of the person. It is also putting focus and attention on the wrong thing, as the “person” is not there – their soul has left. When there is just a body and not a soul, it is not a person. It is a shell, a husk. An open casket is an insult to the person who had inhabited that body, because they have no say over how they are seen. They have no control over what happens to them. They are fully exposed for the world to see and cannot do anything about it.

I think this is at the center of it all. To show pictures of people who are not at their best (to say it lightly) is to violate their rights. It is an invasion of privacy. It is embarrassing. To focus on body parts rather than the whole is equally unethical.

The lady’s son was no longer present. His heart was just a piece of muscle, doing a job. The heart in the box for transplant was moving as if it was alive, but as it was not attached to a person, it was simply the illusion of life. There was no soul in it. It was the same as looking at a machine.

Being mindful and considerate of others’ feelings also applies to not sharing pictures of people who have passed out from being drunk or are intoxicated to the point that they are unaware of their actions.

Remember the story of Noah and his sons?

Genesis 9:18-27
18 Noah’s sons who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were Noah’s sons, and from them the whole earth was populated. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a cloak and placed it over both their shoulders, and walking backward, they covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father naked. 24 When Noah awoke from his drinking and learned what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said: Canaan will be cursed. He will be the lowest of slaves to his brothers. 26 He also said: Praise the LORD, the God of Shem; Canaan will be his slave. 27 God will extend Japheth; he will dwell in the tents of Shem; Canaan will be his slave.

The son who saw him in his drunken state, unable to control himself, was cursed, along with his children. The two sons who covered him and made sure not to see him exposed were blessed.

This is the core teaching. To look at someone who is dead, or like dead (in ICU, or passed out due to intoxication) is an insult to their very being as a person. It is disrespectful. It is a violation of their privacy. It is the same as stripping someone naked. One might even go so far as to say it is equivalent to rape, as the person is treated as a thing and not as a person.

Thanksgiving thoughts

I saw this picture recently

pilgrim refugee

…with these words….
1) “Where would we be if the Wampanoag hadn’t helped the Pilgrims?”

2) “Where would the Wampanoag be if they hadn’t helped the Pilgrims?”

These are two different thoughts, and both worthy of consideration.

These are good things to think about right now in light of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for their very lives from areas of war and oppression. These are good things to think about in the week before we in America celebrate a day dedicated to giving Thanks.

The Pilgrims left England because their way of worship wasn’t allowed. They wanted to worship God in a manner that differed from the official Church of England. The Church of England was, at the time, equivalent with the government of England – go against one, and you’ve gone against the other. The punishment was fines for lesser offenses, and execution for greater ones. They decided to leave rather than change their way of worship, knowing that where they were going to was completely alien to them.

The people who lived in the area the Pilgrims landed were known as the Wampanoag, and they made sure that the Pilgrims had shelter and food. If it weren’t for them, the Pilgrims would have died out in short order as they were not used to living off the land. This is where the first Thanksgiving came from. Two different groups having dinner together. Sharing. Peaceful. Even though they didn’t share the same language or culture, they lived together in harmony.

However, over the course of time, the Pilgrims expanded and pushed out the Wampanoag. The Pilgrims weren’t interested in sharing. They’d forgotten their debt to the Wampanoag. They’d forgotten the tenants of their faith. Their diseases killed off the natives as surely as their guns did. The Wampanoag didn’t have a chance.

Native Americans all over the USA are marginalized. They live in reservations, they have low-paying jobs, little education, and rampant alcoholism. They lived much better before the white people came and imposed their way of life on them in an effort to “help” them. They didn’t need help. They were fine. They only needed help after the Pilgrims (and other settlers) came with their diseases and an insatiable need for more and more land.

How does this relate to today’s issues? If we in America show compassion to people who are different from us, will that result in our being pushed out, in our being killed? Will this nation become a Muslim nation? Wouldn’t this be fair, after what our ancestors did to the natives who were here?

But – should we allow fear to rule our actions? Jesus tells us repeatedly to not be afraid. Jesus tells us repeatedly to love our enemies, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked.

Is there another way to act, other than the way we always have? A middle ground?

There is a fabulous re-imagining of Europe meets the Native Americans in Orson Scott Card’s book “Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus” – where time travelers go back to the natives and secretly inoculate them against the diseases. They also strengthen the native’s opinions and actions so they won’t let the Europeans push them down. They are able to live in peace after this.

Our government says they are worried about Sharia Law – forgetting that their ancestors pushed their own version on to the natives. We need a whole new way of thinking – where people share ideas and work together, with nobody higher or lower.

This is an amazing chance for us to learn from the past and re-vision a new future. This is a time of testing, where we can welcome in the stranger and become stronger because of it.

Consider a garden – one with just one kind of flower is boring. Having many makes it look beautiful.

Consider an orchestra – one with just one kind of instrument is dull. Having many makes it sound beautiful.

Consider a soup – one with just one kind of seasoning makes it taste bland. Having a variety makes it taste wonderful.

This is America – the land of immigrants. The land of second chances. The place where we say we are “The melting pot”, where we say “E pluribus unum” – which means “Out of many, one”.

It is time to let love and compassion rule us rather than fear.
It is time to truly be the “Christian” nation we say we are and take in the stranger, the lost, the refugee. Not because they are Christian, but because we are. Not to turn them into Christians, but for us to prove it through our actions.

Jesus himself was a refugee.

Matthew 2:12-15, his adopted father Joseph gets a message from God in a dream to escape their home and flee to a foreign land, because Herod had ordered every child under the age of two to be slaughtered.

“13 After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.”14 So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (HCSB)

Jesus himself was homeless –

In Matthew 8:20, talking to a man who wants to be his disciple –
20 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” (HCSB)

We must welcome the refugee. We must do this fearlessly. We must do it because Jesus would do this. As his disciples, we have to.

The life of following Jesus isn’t simply about everlasting life after we die. It isn’t a life where we say the words and get the prize. It is a life where we live, every day, a life of trust and hope and joy, right now, serving everyone as if they are Jesus, and serving everyone as Jesus would serve them.

This is a living faith. Let us act like it.

Parable of the lost son

Jesus said “A father had two sons. The younger one said to him ‘Father, give me my inheritance now,’ and his father honored his request. Not long afterwards, that son took all of his belongings and traveled far away to another country, where he spent all he had living large. When he was penniless, a famine broke out there and he became needy. Then he found a job working for a local citizen who sent him to feed the pigs in his fields. He desperately wanted to eat even the seed pods that the pigs were eating but nobody would let him have any.

When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself ‘All of my father’s workers have plenty of food, and I’m starving to death because of this famine! I should get up and travel back to my father and say to him Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Please take me on as a hired hand.’ He then got up and started to walk back to his father. But while he was still very far away, his father saw him and was overcome with compassion. He ran to him and hugged and kissed him. The son said ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’

But the father called to his servants, saying ‘Hurry! Fetch the finest robe we have and put it on him; bring a ring and sandals and put those on him as well. Then slaughter the fattened calf and let’s have a feast of celebration, because my son was dead and has returned to life. He was lost and has been found.’ And thus the party began.

Meanwhile his older son was in the fields. When he approached the house he heard the sounds of music and dancing. He called one of the servants to him and asked what was going on. The servant said ‘Your brother is here, and your father had us slaughter the fattened calf to celebrate that he has safely returned.’

The older son then became very angry and didn’t want to go into the house. His father came outside to plead with him. But the son replied ‘Look I have worked many years for you and I’ve always obeyed your orders, yet you never even gave me a young goat so I could have a feast with my friends. But when this son of yours shows up, the one who threw away your money on prostitutes, you have the fattened calf slaughtered for him!?’

‘Son’, he said, ‘you have never left me and all I have is yours. But we had to rejoice and celebrate because your brother was dead and has returned to life; he was lost and is now found.'”

LK 15:11-32