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One Deacon’s Take: the Prodigal at the Bus Depot

Thomas Hawk CC

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/16/16

From Aleteia’s front page today, a beautiful reflection on The Prodigal Son by another “recovering journalist” and deacon, Deacon Chip Wilson of Charlotte, NC:

For years the image I kept in my head from the Parable of the Prodigal Son was of this benevolent, rich father, wearing a beard and fancy robe, embracing a son who looked something like a fraternity boy after a weekend of hard partying. That image got upended some five years ago by a tattooed teenaged girl I encountered at the Gastonia city transit terminal. It was a hot October afternoon, and I had arrived early to meet our son’s caregiver, hoping to pray and watch the sunset. I had just opened the Divine Office app on my iPhone when I spotted her at the end of a bench. The tattoos or eyeliner or “goth” haircut didn’t seem as unusual as the trenchcoat. She had it buttoned-up despite the 80-degree heat. Seriously tough girl, I thought, as I counted the piercings on her face. Seriously scared girl, I realized, after I saw her eyes. “Can I use your cell phone?” she asked. She explained she’d spent 17 hours on buses from Ohio. She was making a short-notice visit to grandparents who’d moved back to town to start a business. It hadn’t gone well, and they were broke. “And you’re coming here why?” I wanted to ask. A plastic trash bag at her side — filled with all her belongings — told me she had nowhere else to go. I was three months from ordination. I wanted to do something. Get her a meal. Tell her how much God loves her, proclaim the Gospel. I bowed to the stronger impulse to shut up. The girl and her trash bag made their way to the parking lot. I started Google-searching for homeless shelters. Five minutes later a gray Delta 88 sputtered up Main Avenue, going just five mph. Good thing because Grandma didn’t wait for the car to stop before exiting and running to embrace the girl. “I’m sorry” — “No, I’m sorry” filled the air. I glanced over to see the girl whispering in Grandma’s ear and Grandma, stepping back, bug-eyed, as the girl slowly unbuttoned the trenchcoat. Out came a baby bump. The look on Grandma’s face made me think she was going to turn and run. I thought I’d have to give the girl a ride to a shelter or obstetrician. Maybe I’d proclaim the Gospel. Grandma didn’t run. Grandma knelt, wrapped her arms around that belly and kissed it.

Read it all.You’ll be glad you did.

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