Continuing with looking at Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son for our adult Lent group, for session 2 we listened to extracts from the chapter The Younger Son’s Return. In discussion we talked about Nouwen’s description of living towards a second innocence. It provides a way to go forward after we’ve experienced the selfish and tragic. Jesus does not ask us to remain a child, but to become one, and discover an innocence that is reached by conscious choices. We are no longer naive but can choose a way of seeing and being that avoids cynicism and bitterness. As Nouwen says, becoming a child of God is living the Beatitudes.

We also explored how knowing and experiencing God’s love sets us free to approach our relationships differently. We reflected on the ideal of receiving with gratitude the good that comes to us through our relationships as opposed to the consequences of selfish need that can lead to obsession and ultimately the destruction of relationship.

We covered both the difficulties of loneliness and the benefit of solitude. We also explored our ultimate choice for life or death. Nouwen says:
“There in my solitude I started to walk home slowly and hesitantly, hearing ever more clearly the voice that says: ‘You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests.’ This painful, yet hopeful experience brought me to the core of the spiritual struggle to choose life or death. Do we accept the rejection of the world that imprisons us, or do we claim the freedom of the children of God? We must choose.”