• Five Minute Friday :: Far Linkup
This week's far prompt immediately evoked the parable of the Waiting Father / Prodigal Younger Son / Resentful Son in Luke 15:11-32 because more English translations than not tell us the younger son left home for a far country; you can review Luke 15:13 in different English versions on Bible Hub. As you'll notice, we get distant region, far country, distant country, distant land, foreign country, country far away from home, country far away.
With the letters far beginning or in the midst of many words, after I got curious about its etymology, I discovered "far" derives from Old English, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old Norse; it's related to Dutch, and it's from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit and Greek.
In whatever manner we use it casually, "far" is a great distance, way beyond, remote. Distant, beyond, remote from what or where? From home, from safety, from the familiar, from the expected.
On this Friday in late January 2024 I still feel far away from any normal I'd ever had, removed from the very minimum homecoming from exile I'd hoped for and trusted would happen. We have Luke's Prodigal (along with his Lost Sheep and Lost Coin Parables…). We know Israel's experience of exile and return to the Land of Promise only to encounter yet another empire, though amidst all the rebuilding and identity re-formation, Israel codified and canonized a great deal of what we know as the Hebrew Scriptures. Israel re-established worship. What does all that say about us and our being far away too often and sometimes even wanting to stay in the Far Zone because (come on, people, get real) it feels familiar and it feels safe?
If you offer to bring me near—why? Will we be close and not remote? Will you celebrate me or tolerate me? Will it be mutual homecoming, or like Israel, will I yearn for an Egypt that's now geographically far away? Will near be better than far?
Barbara Brown Taylor in Home by Another Way closely relates to our own experiences of far, of the prodigal son's homecoming, of each of our minor, major, traumatic, and secret departures from safety, from home, from the familiar. Her words resonate with times we go to far places on purpose or by accident, as well as our remote ways of being and acting that take us far from others and that distance us from the core of our identity:
What we may have lost along the way is a full sense of the power of God—to recruit people who have made terrible choices; to invade the most hapless lives and fill them with light; to sneak up on people who are thinking about lunch, not God, and smack them upside the head with glory.