Hello there and welcome to my sixth blog post! After a long period of textbook winter weather, the last few days have been spring-like, and I have been trying my best to find time to enjoy it. I am also looking forward to the mini-mission trip that my youth group has planned for this weekend; we are traveling to Warren to spend a couple of days with the youth and congregation of the Episcopal church down there and assist them with whatever things we can help them accomplish.
Both liturgically and generally speaking, this time of year seems to be a time of constant waiting. Many of us in colder climates are waiting for the winter to taper off, and students across the country are waiting for spring break to commence, which will be the first substantial reprieve from school since Christmas. In church, Christians are observing (and in some aspects, suffering through) the season of Lent, which represents the anticipation of Jesus’ crucifixion and the celebration of Easter.
Since as early as the beginning of this school year, I and my fellow seniors in high school have endured an additional kind of waiting: we have been waiting to receive decisions from the colleges and universities to which we applied. The high school which I attend requires all of its seniors to apply and be accepted to a four-year college or university to graduate, so all of us have shared in this waiting to a certain extent. Some of my classmates have already been relieved of their burden: I have friends who have already made their unofficial selections and a few who have already made their deposits for the school of their choosing. For me personally, however, the end still seems very far off. I applied to a total of twelve schools, and of those twelve, I have received decisions from only half of them. I finished all of my applications by late November, so the length of time between then and now seems like eternity. “National Decision Day”, which is considered to be the deadline for students to pledge their attendance to most institutions, and especially the more competitive ones, is less than two months away, so I hope to receive my remaining letters as soon as possible. At the time which I am writing this post, I will actually receive the decision for one of my top choice schools tomorrow afternoon. The dates which I have been made aware of for a few others are not until later this month or stretching into early April, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to make the most important decision of my life so far. I have become quite accustomed to responding to the question, “So where are you going to end up next year?” with “I have absolutely no clue.”
This past Sunday was Mothering Sunday in my church, and for that occasion the Gospel that was read was the parable of the Prodigal Son. In short, the parable describes a father who has two sons, the younger of which prematurely asks for his share of the inheritance he and his brother are expected to receive. Said son then goes off and spends all of the money doing what the Bible might as well describe as “serious shenanigans.” Broke and disgraced, he returns to his father to ask for a job so he can have food, but the father welcomes him with open arms and an awesome celebration. When the older son expresses a certain degree of anger and jealousy, because he has never disobeyed his father and also has never had a party held in his honor, the father assures the older son that he appreciates his son and has every bit of his respect, but he has to acknowledge his younger son’s miraculous return to him, because, despite his mistakes and shenanigans, the father still loves his son.
Most everyone who is aware of Christianity in some way is aware of this story. It is one of my personal favorites, not only because it is so ubiquitous but also because it is one of the easiest to grasp the meaning of. But this Sunday, in his sermon, the Dean of my church gave me another perspective to consider. He said something like, “Each of us has a general idea of who we are in this story, but we have been or will be each of the different characters at some point in our lives.” In a few months, I will have to change how I think of myself in at least one major way, from high school student to college student. I am determined not to let the results of my remaining applications change my view of myself from anything other than a smart, dedicated human being.
The father of the Prodigal Son is waiting for his son to return to him. Jesus is waiting for his death, and Christians wait for Him to rise again. In time, these things will happen, but before they do, we just might have to wait.