The old man gazed in the distance, squinting, for his vision had been gone for some time. He witnessed the seasons come and go as he watched over the rolling fields for his lost beloved. He had seen countless sunsets and harvests from this spot. His face wrinkled and hair white, a vision of an empty heart. Joy was hidden somewhere in the distance, but he could only find sorrow.
“Father!” he heard cry out in the distance. He looked up excitedly, but in a moment’s breath, hope was gone.
“Father!” came the voice again.
His eyes found the blurred figure of his younger son.
“Come closer,” he whispered in a soft, broken voice, “my vision is failing, and I cannot see you. Come closer, that I might see the face of my child.”
The young man drew nearer to his aged father. His father reached out to touch his face. Then the old man looked off into the distance again. The young man turned to see the horizon, empty, as it had been for many years.
“Father, please eat something.” He urged, choking back tears.
The old man shook his head and looked to the dirt on the ground. He took his son’s hand and brushed it across his face and sighed, as if all the sorrow of his heart could be expelled with a sigh.
“Father, he’s been gone for many years now,” he struggled, “I… I don’t think he’s coming back.”
“Son, you do not understand the emptiness in a father’s heart when one of his children wishes him dead, then abandons him.” The young man was impatient, he had heard this before. “It is an empty ocean, with a dry, cracked bed,” the old man continued, “and the pain crushes you as a boulder does an ant.”
The young man knew there was nothing that he could say or do to comfort his father. It had been several years since his older brother had demanded that their father give him his inheritance so that he may leave and satisfy the yearning of his flesh. To the old man, it was as if he were wishing his own father dead.
The young man kissed his father’s cheek and left to do chores in the stable nearby.
“Death would have been better for him.” Thought the young man, “The evil that my brother has done to my father is far greater than anything death would have done. Now, I must suffer from his sin, too.” The young man wiped a tear from his cheek. “To me, my brother is dead. There is no love for him in my heart.”
Suddenly, there was a great commotion in the distance.
“Son! Come quickly!” came his father’s voice. He had not heard his father’s voice that hearty since before his brother left.
The young man quickly ran to find his father. As he came into the courtyard, he thought he was seeing a vision of the ghost of his dead brother. There he stood, wearing a fresh robe, and new ring. Next to him was his father, dancing as if he were not old. He was spastically embracing and kissing his lost son.
“I have instructed the servants to kill the fattened calf,” the old man shouted to the young man, “tonight we celebrate, for my son was lost, but is now found!”
The young man indignantly approached his father, pushing passed his brother.
“Father, I have stayed by your side for all these years! As your vision failed you, I was your eyes. As your hearing failed you, I was your ears. As your words failed you, I was your voice.” He was uncontrollable as his father stood dumbfounded. “Never once have you celebrated my staying by your side!”
“But son!” exclaimed the father, “You have always been here, you were always loved… don’t you see, has your vision failed, too? Your brother was dead, and now he lives!”
“My dear brother,” the older brother pleaded, “do you not understand?’ He grabbed the young man’s shoulders and looked into his eyes. “I am not what I once was. I ate the slop of pigs before I treasured our father’s love… please forgive me my sins. I am no longer blind. Now I see.”
The young man looked up into his father’s eyes. It was then that he felt the love in the joyful vision of his father. Then, the young man rejoiced.
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