Chapter 2: Running with Bare Legs
The neighborhood is better than I remember. The pastures are well manicured, the livestock looks and sounds robust and healthy. The surface of the road is smooth, not rutted from many wagon wheels; a sign of the communities’ commitment to the good of all.
Although I’ve been gone just a few years, what I see before me is so very different than what I recall leaving. I’m overwhelmed by the sweet floral air, and it is a welcome change from the acrid sewage and garbage that I’ve grown accustomed to.
The sun is high in the sky as I am approaching the top of a hill. For the first time I can see my Father’s land. The sight of it shocks me, and I cannot help but notice the rock wall running through the center of it, dividing my Father’s land from the neighbors, the ones I sold my inheritance to. Now I look at that wall, and see it as a monument to my sin, and to my arrogance. My heart sinks and I’m once again questioning my decision to return. It would be easier to cower away unseen.
I stand here pondering the situation once again, replaying my decisions in my mind. My guilt has not only encased my heart, but my feet as well. They feel heavy and I cannot will them to move forward, to go to the place before me. I wonder how long I have been standing here, afraid to move. The sun is beginning to set, adding contrast and shadows to the scene. One shadow stands out amongst the others. It is long and shows a man moving down the road. He is running, and making his way toward me. I stare and am still fearful of moving. I hold my breath.
The long shadow exaggerates his thin, spindly legs. Even from this distance I see that his legs are ghostly white. They look so frail and I wonder if the impact of his run might snap one like a dried twig. I watch as he gets closer, and the man running toward me is no longer a young man, or one meant to move with such fervor and joy.
The old man is now hunched over, overwhelmed with his athletic feat, catching his breath. Suddenly, I see something most familiar in his slumped posture. The pain he shows is different than last time I saw him. Now it is exuberant, the type of pain that comes from giving all of you, and showing your vulnerability. He catches his breath enough to shout my name, and that is when I know that what I hoped for is happening.
He’s come to celebrate me home.