He stood, casually elegant, at the podium,
Telling of a life that inspired us all,
With a gruff but humorous manner of relaying his story
Of courageous rising after life’s hard fall.
He related analogies from the Bible;
“Rummy stories” was the term he used,
The truth coming forth in his narration
Leaving us touched and motivated if amused.
He told about “the prodigal,” a Jewish lad
Who sought early “what will someday be mine.”
Although it was both tradition and expectation
That the older brother would be first in line.
A sorrowing but wise father then conceded,
And the younger son with blessing went his way,
Proceeding to find friends with whom to waste the fortune
Until, with means gone, friends, too, went away.
The land was suffering in the throes of famine
Adding to the depth of his decline.
No employment could be found ‘til, finally—
A Jewish man’s last choice. Oh, no! Not feeding swine!
Reduced to feeding swine or face starvation,
The young man was brought harshly to his knees.
Then, with a sudden flash of insight, he thought,
“Father’s servants are better off than me.”
So, picking up what ragged garment still remained,
He turned his face back the way he came.
And trudging, tired, but with resolution,
He rehearsed how he would admit his shame.
“Father, only let me be your servant;
I no longer deserve to be your son.
Just to be able to make a living
Would be all I ask after all I’ve done.”
But the father ran and caught him in his arms,
Crying gladly, ”Son, you’re alive and home again.
Servants, prepare a feast, new clothes and honor,
A ring, a fatted calf, a party—forget what’s been!”
“What of my older son?” the father wondered.
And finding him, he said, “What’s wrong? Come join the feast.”
“Father,” he said morosely, “After what he’s wasted and abused,
How can you be so joyful and so pleased?”
“I stayed and did the work and helped you,
And selfish thoughts of pleasure I declined.
I never even asked—to feast with friends—a kid goat;
Now look how you celebrate this wasteful brother of mine.”
“My son, my son,” the father said with great affection,
“All I have is yours; I’d have withheld nothing that was mine.
You’ve been by my side and mean so much to me.
You could have had a party at any time.”
The tall, engaging speaker summed up the story
With a bearing of humor, compassion, and wit combined,
While I sat with sudden realization,
I, too, Could have a party at any time.
I don’t have to tally the advantages of others
Or keep account of every grievance of mine.
I can act on possibilities before me
Unless I like to sit and feed the swine
I can enjoy the brightness of the morning
Even though clouds may be on the way
And also see in them the rains supplying
Of green and growing grass and flowers of May.
I can hug and hold and dance and smile
And be glad for people all around.
Family can be seen with all their good points.
I can forgive and let that weight hit the ground.
Not to deny my tears or tears of others,
But celebrate the fact that we can feel
And let compassion soften the rough spots of life,
And hold the faith that what is hurt can heal.
I can see the roses on the thorn bush,
Cherish and then also share what’s mine,
See the freedom that’s within my limits,
I can have a party any time.
©2010 Carol Morfitt