Prodigal

prodigal: a person who spends, or has spent, his or her resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant

Do you know the story the Christians tell about The Prodigal Son? The dude demands his inheritance, splits for another country and spends it ALL – every penny -- on what the gospel writer discreetly refers to as “wild living.”

And just like that,
He’s poor.
He’s hungry.
And he wants to go home.

When I saw this lithograph by Charlie Mackesy, along with its title, The Prodigal Daughter, it took my breath away. Not just the image but THE WORDS in the background. It’s the famous story of the prodigal, rewritten! Rewritten about a daughter!

First, the feminist in me shouted HELLSYA WOMEN CAN BE PRODIGALS TOO! (Then I was like, wait, what?)

But as I looked at it and looked at it, allowing “girl,” “daughter” and “her” to sink in...things got a little more personal.

IIIIII’d…been feeling a little prodigally myself when I came upon this image. And thinking about the famous story, it occurred to me that the difference between me and the son in this famous story is that didn't demand my inheritance and then dramatically and without reservation squander it freely, recklessly and wastefully. I didn't go BIG.

Nope. I’m more of a nickel-dimin’ kind of girl.
A favor here, a favor there.

Hey, Pops, can I have…
Hey, so, like I know you gave me…but, uhm… could you also…
This is the last time I will ask you for this, last time, I promise…

(Yes, I am talking about my spiritual inheritance. And yes, I did just call God “Pops.” That was for effect. That was to make sure you keep reading.)

Yup. Pops is rich. And generous.
He’ll give me my inheritance any time and every time I ask.
I ask a lot. He gives a lot.
But then I move away to another country. I wander around. I get reckless and wasteful. And one day I wake up and realize I'm tapped out, I'm empty --
and I want to go home.

Again.

It’s a wearying business, actually, the over-and-overness of it.
And sometimes I wonder if Pops ever gets tired of it all.

I emailed the artist of The Prodigal Daughter, Mr. Charlie Mackesy, and asked him if I could use his picture for a blog post or a Facebook page. I didn’t expect an answer really. Important People like Whoopi Goldberg and M.Night Shyamalan AND STING collect Charlie Mackesy’s art. I was fairly certain he would not spend time answering me.  But I figured it was worth a try, and besides, asking permission is The Right Thing To Do. 

Mr. Charlie Mackesy DID email me back. And he said:

Hi Kelly
Yes of course you can
Thanks for asking
Charlie

His response, the wide-openness of it…
It kinda reminded me of Pops.
Charlie didn’t tell me how I could or could not use it.
He just said yes.
More than yes. He said
“Yesofcourseyoucan.”

So <deep breath> here’s what I’m imaging today:

Me, prodigal daughter, returning home again -- not dramatically like the son in the story, but slinking in with a slow step and hanging head (but feeling just as remorseful as the son in the story, and maybe more so, because I’ve done this REPEATEDLY) --

“God, I’m really sorry. I did it again. 
I really miss you. Can I come home?”

And God (who, according to Luke 15:20 is filled with compassion for me, go figure) is saying:

Hi Kelly
Yes of course you can
Thanks for asking

Learn about Charlie at charlie mackesy