life, unmasked: i am the older brother.

Last Thursday, I linked up with Sarah Bessey’s brilliant synchroblog, and wrote about what is saving my life right now. Or right then, rather. That week, it was New Mexico–everything from the earth to the sky and back again.

You know what else saved my life that week, later that very day?

My mom got a job. 

She’s been waiting, my family has been waiting, a cloud of beautiful witnesses we have filled our lives with has been waiting for three years.

[And here’s a little more about that story, if you’re interested.]

But can I tell you something else first?

Even with all the blessing, even with the open hand that has been this week, I have been the other brother.

You know the guy I mean– the older one in the parable, the one who cannot share in the joy when grace is extended to his prodigal sibling.

One of my favorite paintings. Rembrandt captures the moment of reconciliation between the prodigal son and his father, but also chooses to include the brother (on the right) in this particular scene. Notice the elder’s placement in the frame, his posture, his face.

There is a feast, a fatted calf, but the older brother cannot bring himself to come to the table. It is a grace too extravagant, it is just too much.

He doesn’t deserve it, the older one silently muses, positioning himself on a higher plane, as he imagines himself superior. He cannot bridge that space.

And that has been me this week, in more ways than one.

I have looked on the triumphs of others and begrudged, I have looked on these my own extravagant graces and named them burdens. 

I have chosen cynicism and unforgiveness.

I have clenched my grip on possessions this week, like a toddler yelling mine.

I have conveniently forgotten that I don’t deserve it, and none of it is really mine to hold.

I have not looked on with joy, and so I robbed my own.

And sure, these things are both the property of my fallenness and the condition of the broken world on any given day. The particular ugliness of my heart isn’t all that special.

But what of the long-awaited blessing, the miracle we began with, the grace of it all, so imminent?

It is all that darkness curled up with that much light that makes it hard to breathe.

Life: Unmasked