`YOU can't go home again,'' the novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote. This theme of lost innocence is presented again and again in the fiction and drama of our times, and its influence is widely felt. Of course, this idea isn't new. It's a restatement of the Biblical allegory in which Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden of Eden, condemned never to return. Underlying this story is the belief that man's innocence and purity -- his identity itself -- can be lost, his relationship to God severed.
Christ Jesus explicitly refuted this mistaken belief in his parable of the prodigal son. In the parable, a young man has wandered far from his native land. He has squandered his share of his father's estate in a life of immorality. Eventually he finds himself destitute. In desperation he decides to return to his home and work for his father as a hired servant.
The Bible says of his return: ``But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.''1
Jesus' parable teaches us about our relationship to our heavenly Father. To me it says: No matter what you may have done, you cannot lose your true, God-created spiritual selfhood or the innocence which characterizes that selfhood. That's why, having repented of sin, you can go home again.
The Nobel Prize-winning poet T. S. Eliot, writes in his poem The Four Quartets: We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first
In absolute reality we have never left our heavenly Father or our native land. What appears to our human sense to be return and reconciliation is actually the opening up of our hearts to this unalterable spiritual fact.
And where is this home, this native country from which man has never actually been expelled? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God.''2 She defines heaven as ``harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul.''3
This spiritual state is not limited to certain individuals, nor is it obtainable only after death. All of us have the opportunity to experience something of heaven through a growing sense of unity with our creator -- a unity felt through prayer and through living more and more in harmony with the teachings of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.
Regardless of how mired in mistakes your life may seem to be at the moment, healing is possible. Enslavement to drugs, alcohol, sexual compulsion, poverty, physical or mental illness -- all have been healed through prayer. If you're wandering around in the wilderness, far from your native country, I know from my own experience that you can go home again.
1Luke 15:20-24. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 254. 3Ibid., p. 587. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out....I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. Ezekiel 34:11,16