Thought for the Week is updated by the Clergy of Chichester Cathedral, sharing readings, prayers or poetry for you to access at home.
Thought for the Week (June 21st 2020) - Linda Barratt, Cathedral Lay Reader
Walking Away by Cecil Day Lewis
It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.
That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.
I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
It is hard for loving parents to let their children go, and hard to let them fail. If only we could protect them from pain and catastrophe! But our heavenly Father has let us “prodigal sons” go, to earn our own successes and failures; how else can we grow into independent, full and mature personalities?
Jesus’ parable shows us a father who let his son go – a father with an everlasting love, and a heart aching for an embrace and a renewed relationship. He did not know when or if his selfish yet still beloved boy would return - but each day he went out, straining his eyes in the scorching sun for a longed-for speck of a familiar figure in the distance, longing to welcome him home.
Our Father goes out to meet us, with his arms outstretched, every day.