A father scans the horizon

The gospel read at Mass last weekend was from Luke and included the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32). It is my favorite parable and one that always sets me down a path of reflection.


I think fathers are hard on their children, especially their sons (rightly or wrongly). Fathers know the trials, traps and dangers that lay in wait for their offspring and want to be sure to the best of their ability that their children are prepared.

learning to walkAs such we are not Mr. Popular in the household. It is at times a most demanding, and maddening, role.

But a necessary one.

So we play it out.

And when it is time for them to go, and if we’ve done our job, the child leaves and (we hope) finds it a smoother road than expected.

At least at first.

And the young man journeyed on his way, 
And he said to himself as he travelled along: 
This sure is an easy road, 
Nothing like the rough furrows behind my father’s plow. 

Our children do not always grasp the reasons why we’re not “their best friend” until (hopefully) age and wisdom borne from years spent living makes it clear to them just what their dad was attempting to do for them.

We learn to accept that we may never hear the words “thank you.”


Once they’ve flown the nest and are making their way in the world problems will be faced. Problems that no matter how much their father wished otherwise he was unable to prepare them for everything. It happens.

And, if mistakes are made, every son or daughter may be found asking themselves:

Does that lamp still burn in my Father’s house,
Which he kindled the night I went away? 
I turned once beneath the cedar boughs, 
And marked it gleam with a golden ray; 
Did he think to light me home some day?

And with the last of the remaining strength available to him the father wants to find himself able to reply …



Poetry excerpt credits:

  1. The Prodigal Son by James Weldon Johnson
  2. A Prodigal Son by Christina Rossetti

3 thoughts on “A father scans the horizon

  1. Ever?! As I have gotten older I’ve realized how difficult a job it is to be a parent. My mom always used to say, “Kids don’t come with instruction manuals.” And now my friends are all having kids and I’m wondering, “How on earth would *I* raise a little one?”

    I hope your kids tell you “thank you,” though. I am thankful for my parents every day… If they haven’t yet, they will. 😉

    Blessings to you, friend!


    • Thanks Jess! While I hope it’s not “ever”, I’m prepared for it. And to some extent I understand it. I love what your mom said and it reminds me of something I recently told my high school senior: “My job as a parent didn’t come with an instruction manual.” In other words: I’m doing the best that I know how to do. I make mistakes, but try my best to succeed for their benefit.

      In the end it’s all any of us can do.


      • Absolutely. When we’re kids, because our parents are the boss and we don’t know any better, we think they’re infallible — at least for a short time. Then, as we get older, we realize they’re people just like us… That’s when we can become best friends. 🙂


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