“Aaron, if you don’t quit beatin’ that horse, I’m gonna tell Dad!”
“Well, he won’t do what I tell him! What a dumb horse!”
“You have to train him properly – you can’t just bully him.”
“I’m tired of you and everyone else telling me what to do, Benjamin. I’m gettin’ out of here!”
“And where do you think you’re going? You’ve got it real good around here – you’re the baby and Dad is way too easy on you. A lot of guys would like to be in your shoes.”
“Yeah, yeah -- I’ve been talking to a guy that lives over the hill. He doesn’t have to do all this work, he’s got it good. I’m talkin’ to Dad. Just you wait!”
The next morning, dust can be seen down the old dirt road as Aaron leaves. Benjamin watches Dad waving goodbye.
“Dad, where is Aaron going this early? We have chores to do.”
“Aaron came to me last night and asked for his inheritance. It seems that he can’t wait for it.”
“But – Dad! You know he isn’t old enough or smart enough to handle his own life.”
“I know, I know, but he’ll never be happy until he tries life on his own. Nothing we can say or do will convince him otherwise -- his mind is made up.”
“Well, I knew he was dumb, but this takes the cake! What a fool!”
“Now, Benjamin, this is no way to talk about your brother. We must pray for him, he will need it.”
Months pass, a year or two. Benjamin asks his dad, “Dad, have you heard anything from Aaron? I heard in the market this morning that he has squandered all of his inheritance and no one seems to know where he is. His buddies have even dumped him.”
“Yes, when the fun stops, that kind of friend disappears. I have turned Aaron over to God, only He can deal with him.”
Benjamin only shakes his head.
“Owe! My head hurts somethin’ awful! Where am I, anyway? Oooo, what’s this nasty stuff I’m lying in, and whew, the smell is bad. I don’t really remember much – where’s my bottle? Get outta here, pig!” Struggling to get to his feet, he yells, “Somebody get me another bottle! I’ve got money – see?” He numbly fumbles for his pocket pulling out nothing. “Wha . . . somebody musta robbed me!” He trips over a pig and lies there to sleep it off in the stinky mud.
A few days later when his mind is clearer because he has no money to buy boos, Aaron is hungry. He comes full circle back to the pig pen where he woke up a few days earlier. He watches as the pigs eat their fill of fresh slop.
He licks his lips and remembers the wonderful meals he had at home. His stomach is growling. It demands to be fed.
“I know how well fed everyone is at home – even the hired-help. I wonder if I could hire on there. I can see home from here. I never knew, all these months, that I was just this side of paradise. Why didn’t I see it then? I was so blinded. I was such a fool. I was living in paradise and didn’t know it -- I’m so hungry.”
At home, Dad stands watching the road where he last saw Aaron. He has stood here every morning since he left. He is praying every day that he will see his beloved son return.
“Well, I guess I’d better get to work – wait! There is a speck in the road. Is it? Could it be?” Straining his eyes, he can just make out the outline of his son. “I couldn’t mistake that build, it’s Aaron! He’s come home!”
“Benjamin! Aaron is home! Kill a fatted calf! Everyone gets the day off. It’s a time for celebration!”
“A celebration? Aaron makes a mess of his life and gets a celebration? What do I get? I’m the good son, the one who stayed home and worked. You never killed a fatted calf for me!”
“Benjamin, you are also my beloved son. You could have a celebration any time you wanted one. You have me all the time. Your brother nearly lost me – and we nearly lost him. When he comes home, it’s time to celebrate!” Dad turns and begins to run down the road toward the one who has come home.
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