There once lived a man who loved his sons very much. He was a wealthy man, lacking in nothing, who owned land and livestock and could provide for his family and all who served him. Everyone loved the man dearly. He worked hard every single day alongside his servants, doing the same work and more. When they were old enough, the boys began working the fields with their father. As a father and as a man, he couldn’t have been any prouder than to have these two as his sons.
Then one day, his second-born – a man still very much a boy in every respect – boldly approached the man and demanded his share of the inheritance that would one day be his. The servants murmured in hushed tones about this interaction: the blatant disrespect, the selfishness, the unspoken wish and curse.
The man, however, looked at his son with kind, sad eyes. The man knew his boys, and the child standing before him knew nothing of economics and business and moneyhandling. No, all had been given to him from the beginning, and he knew little of responsibility. But the man loved his son deeply and held hope that he would one day become a respectable and honorable man that no one could speak poorly of. Without hesitation, the man divided his land – his only investment – and gave the deed to his boy. As the boy ran off to sell his land that his father worked and tilled for so many years, the father stood in one place and watched his baby boy until he could see him no longer. And then he went back to work.
The next morning, the man ate his breakfast, pat his older son on the shoulder, and went back to the same spot where he bid farewell to his youngest. There he stood for several moments, staring intently toward the direction his son ran off yesterday. The last thing he had seen of his boy was his back, straight and unwavering; he never looked back.
Everyday the man did this. Even when he was in the field, his eyes always drew toward that path where his son chose to carve out his future.
The servants had begun to whisper amongst themselves regarding their master’s routine. “What a loving father,” some said. “What a deranged fool,” commented others. “No matter what, he was his son,” yet more added.
The man’s older son, however, had very little to say. Instead, his eyes grew colder and colder day by day as he watched his father – the honorable, powerful man whom he had tried his entire life to please – pine pathetically for that worthless brother of his. Having abandoned his work and his kin, the younger boy no longer held any part of his brother’s heart.
Still the man continued to wait. Day after day, he waited. Though he grew weary, he always waited. Some mornings were more difficult than others in getting started and moving about. “Master, why not rest today?” his servants would say. “Master, today will be like yesterday and the day before and the days before that.” To each, the man would smile politely and, with hope sparkling deep in the apples of his eyes, he would answer, “But today is today. It is not yesterday or the day before or the days before that. Today could be the day. Today I could be welcoming him home.” And the man continued to wait.
Days continued to pass, and even the servants had grown weary. The man’s labor had begun to take a toll on him. On a particularly difficult morning, a servant said, “Master, you have been working from sunrise to sunset. Why not rest a little longer today or even just leave everything to us?” However, like always, the man smiled and shook his head. “Today could be the day,” he answered as he and his servant left to begin the day. They walked toward the spot he had stood every morning since that fateful day. “Today, I could be welcoming him home.”
As he glanced toward the horizon, the man’s usual joyful face beamed and erupted into a smile that rooted itself in his very soul.
And, his body forgetting its fatigue, he took off in a sprint as the wind carried his deep full laughter toward the fields.