I finished reading Home Tonight: Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen on Pentecost Sunday. It gave me a great deal to think, pray, and write about as well as meditate on. Truthfully, I read through it without stopping each and every time to do the journaling exercises, because I wanted to get the overall message of the book, as Nouwen has for many years, been one of my absolute favorite authors. I plan to go back and do the journaling meditations over time. Being a writer, they take me much longer than they might take other people because as long as the ideas keep coming, I keep the pen moving.
As is often the case with Nouwen’s books, I am again very aware that I’m being challenged through these heartfelt personal reflections to accept the love, forgiveness, and mercy of the Lord on a deeper level than I ever have before. This task is rather daunting because it’s really difficult for me to accept love, especially unconditional love and forgiveness when I know (to some extent) how little I deserve it. There’s a lot in me that still believes certain lies: that my worth comes more from what I do for others, can offer them, and help them with more than it has to do with my innate value as a Beloved Daughter of God. We are all God’s Beloved Children, and I know intellectually that favor cannot be earned and isn’t based on performance. I really don’t understand that kind of love—especially when it comes to God and others loving me—but by golly, I’m sure going to keep trying if not to understand it, at least to absorb it.
Nouwen writes and reflects intimately on the love of God and the many roadblocks we put up that keep us from accepting it on the deepest level. I highly recommend reading this book as well as one of my all-time favorites of his The Return of the Prodigal Son.