Category Archives: Departure

On Farewells and Fresh Starts

Dear Father,

It has been ages since we last spoke. Depressed by the continued absence of Fatherly epiphanies, and hitting wall after wall in my search for meaning in your grand design, I resorted to silence.

It wasn’t initially a conscious choice. The time between my letters had already been growing due to my increasing responsibilities, and it seemed at the start that the pause was simply more of the same, albeit longer. The more the time grew, however, the easier it became to just remain quiet, as mere thoughts of addressing you served only to remind me of past failures and of the apparent impossibility of any real future within your House. There was no point I thought, for as long as the reasons behind my departure remained unchanged, reconciliation would forever be impossible.

I understand Father that this fear is very similar to what wayward children, guilty of much greater crimes than a crisis of faith, feel after having left the fold for too long. Many an elder in your House, through sermon and scripture, has spoken at length of how misplaced these fears are. Our Father, they say, is most gracious; there is no sin is too great for his boundless forgiveness. It was after all to buy this very forgiveness that the Brother-Saviour gave his life.

But how does one forgive a lack of faith? How does one forgive a sin whose very core is the question of whether forgiveness is possible, whether it is even necessary? As the space between my letters grew wider, and as the hopelessness of satisfactorily concluding my quest grew greater, this question became of increasing importance to me. Would you, dearest Father, accept a wayward son back into your home? One who, while filled with a burning desire to return, was yet to reconcile the many questions that had drove him away to begin with? Would such a return to the House even mean anything? Could I truly call myself a child of the Cross if at every service, in every prayer, my once little friend was still able to ask his pernicious questions? If whenever called to exalt your name, or give solace to my brethren, or stand resolute in the face of temptation, I found myself thinking instead of whether or not the very foundations of our household were real? What good would such a return do?

Unfortunately, roaming aimlessly with these thoughts in my head had a very unintended consequence Father. It brought me to the realisation that fulfilment in spite of all this, despite the lack of your approval and forgiveness, is a real and attainable goal.

In this letterless stretch I met a lot of people, many of whom were like me: prodigal children long separated from their Houses. There were differences of course; some had left not because they feared they had no parents, but because they felt they had wrong homes. Some had left because they had discovered in their Houses corners so dark and vile they shattered the illusions of perfection they had come to believe were real. Some simply believed there was no true House, no one Father, that these structures were but the flawed efforts of children desperate to satisfy an inexplicable yearning they all found within themselves.

Regardless of their stripe Father, their presence and the manner in which they carried themselves revealed that a life without a House is not the thing I once feared it was. From within your gates we hear all kinds of things about the wayward children beyond the wall. They live lives of sin, empty and unfulfilled. They are cruel and selfish, blind and hateful, and the few with good hearts are ultimately misguided, doomed and damned by virtue of their pride and ignorance. Only you, through the Brother-Saviour, can save all men. Only you can bring us joy.

Seeing these wayward souls, living among them, banished all of those thoughts dearest Father. Here were people that were just as content as those I had seen back home, and in many ways even more so. Here were people that had found, in your earth, its people, its institutions, and even in their own existence, a fulfilment and calm that had eluded me for years.

To be fair these people weren’t new. I have been bumping into different kinds of your children from the day I set foot outside the House. There was however something about interacting with them, free from the impetus to judge their acts against your standard, that impressed on me the ease of their existence. Even Doubt, ever ready to throw a wrench in the works and derail my progress, seemed quieter when I was with them, less rash and more indulgent. Once I stopped trying to judge ideas against some sort of fixed, Crossian dogma, his questions lost their bite. In their presence he transformed from bane to boon, his probes helping all of us reach new levels of discovery instead of holding me back with the weight of his uncertainty.

And perhaps nothing could have sealed my fate more than that final realisation, dearest Father. My once little friend has been with me from the start of my quest, and rare were the occasions on which I managed to quiet him. To see his vindictive ruthlessness cooled by the acceptance of the children Outside, to glimpse a future in which I didn’t have to worry that every thought, every action had to be weighed against his incessant questions, a future where the truth was something to be sought and not something to be fought… I believe even you Father can understand why a weak child like myself would be seduced by that.

Of course none of this would have mattered had I made steady progress in my quest to find you. But being the all-knowing Father that you are, I suppose you always knew how this journey was going to end. The letter that launched my silence was not one of hope, and in the absence of any new discoveries to counter the despondent conclusions I reached prior to sending it, was there ever really much chance that my questions would find resolution?

And so here I am Father, ending my journey much like I started it: outside your gates and longing for your voice, my immense sadness at the futility of my quest tempered only by the renewed promise of finding peace amongst my prodigal brethren. Alas I will not be privy to that greatest of feasts thrown when one of your children return to the fold. I cannot in good faith take that final step through the gilded gates, for I still cannot accept that your House is my home. My doubts are too deep, your silence too deafening.

I can only hope that if you really are there, if you did receive any of the letters I sent on this saddest of quests, that somewhere in your heart lies the capacity to forgive even those of us that turn our backs to you.  We want to love you Father, to know you, but in a world such as this an invisible, intangible, and inconstant parent makes that leap just a little too large.

So fare thee well dearest Father. May your grief at the loss of yet another child not dull the joy from those that choose to remain, resolute and steadfast, in your presence.

Forever with love,

Your Prodigal Son.

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On My Reasons

Dearest Father,

It has been more than two moons since I left home, and in that time I have requested my inheritance and written you about my love. As one engaged in studies, training and a variety of personal projects, you must know that I have very little time on my hands. Forgive the sparse letters. As I draw farther and farther away from the House, it, I assume, takes longer and longer for my letters to reach you. Please take that into account as you wait patiently for my missives. I will do my utmost to ensure that I write regularly, perhaps on a fortnightly basis.

I have travelled quite a bit since my last letter, accompanied by my incessantly talkative acquaintance, enjoying the scenery of the Outside and making small progress in my quest to find the great Sophia. There is no dearth of people and books claiming to have found the way to her heart and selecting a starting point was a difficult and drawn out task in itself. I have decided to settle, for now, on the teachings of the ancients. In the world you saw fit to create their works are the easiest to obtain, and in one form or another contemporary lovers have been greatly influenced by their ideas. I cannot go into too much detail – I am only just beginning – but rest assured that as progress is made you will be dutifully informed. I hope you would be kind enough to offer a helping hand; I have no doubts that advice from a Father as wise and as old as yourself would place me at her feet in next to no time.

But enough with the small talk, Father. As you know my progress with Sophie is not the topic of this letter. I have been putting this off for a while, but I knew that eventually I would have to tell you, explicitly, why I left the House. I feel it only fair that I elaborate; courtesy demands it, and my conscience expects it.

I hinted at the single biggest reason for leaving in my first letter; it was, and still is, Father, your absence. But absence in and of itself is not enough to drive me away. I have never seen you before, and even in my youth I had no problems with this state of affairs. No. My decision to leave came from your customary absence at a time when I was most lost and most in need of your comfort. Imagine for a moment how I must view you, Father, per what I have been told about you since before my brain could even give meaning to words. You were perfection; my almighty, just, and loving Father. In my mind you were a doting parent, at once firm and gentle, strict and caring, dedicated to providing nothing but the best for his offspring. As a younger man I felt truly washed in your love. This love after all was the centre of the doctrine put forth and spread by the Family, and by extension, the House. It was the reason for everything beautiful, from the greenness of the grass to the freshness of the air. It was the reason for laughter and joy, the reason for brightness and warmth.

As I grew however, I felt this love less and less. It seemed to diminish in intensity and effect with age, dwindling as both my years and my faculties of reason advanced. As I grew the wonderful image of this earth that I had been given fell apart, revealing a world much darker, much bleaker, and this discovery brought with it a pernicious scepticism that began to eat away at my soul, year after year.

I must say that I have remained largely removed from this twisted world around me; my short existence has been one of happiness and joy, garnished with the occasional tragedy but sweetened with healthy servings of good fortune. Perhaps this is why my discovery was so earth-shattering. Like the famous prince in the East whose father sheltered him in hopes he would never know pain and suffering, I was astounded when hit with the harsh reality of the world I live in. I refused to disbelieve, however, waiting patiently for you to reach out from up above and comfort me with your words, enlighten me with your truth. But such a time never came and I was left waiting, my doubts becoming ever more pronounced, my questions growing in number and nuance…

At this juncture, I am sure you have a sad smile on your face. You must know that my description above is but the tip of a very, very familiar iceberg. I am not the first to write about these things, the absence of both you and your love, the doubt, the confusion. Of this I am well aware. In fact, back in the confines of the House I heard many the tale of children led astray by what our teachers called the seductive whisperings of You-Know-Who, falling prey to the growing seeds of doubt and confusion in their minds. I realise, Father, that I have fallen into a similar trap. This seems apparently to be the curse of all your children; while you, our wonderful Father, by virtue of his vast well of knowledge, seems untouchable by such ponderings and wonderings, your infinitely more short-sighted children cannot help but succumb to them. Like the moth that sees countless of his brothers die as they fly into the hot, glowing wire and still follows, I cannot help myself in this regard. I am drawn, irrevocably so, to the Outside, for I must see for myself if the stories I have heard are true. I must confirm if the reason I cannot see you, and can no longer feel you, is not because you are absent from the House, but because I am deficient, blind, in some manner. I am made slightly more confident by the fact that I have seen some from the House embark on journeys like mine and return safely, made stronger and more resolute by their ordeals on the Outside. But these are in the minority, dear Father. The odds, it would appear, are not in my favour.

You must understand now why I am infatuated with Sophie. With these troublesome thoughts and misgivings, with these feelings driving me further into the realm of disbelief, it seems that only the cool salve of her words can bring me back. Only by finding and wooing her can I come to the kind of understanding that countless of my brethren before me seem to have possessed, both those that embarked on my journey and those that did not. As I mentioned in my last letter, perhaps by finding her, Father, I would at last find you, see you. And what better reward than this? What better reward than to finally lay eyes upon you, laying to rest all my questions and running at long last into your arms.

You will be hearing a lot from me, dear Father. I know you have already seen countless variations of the questions, postulations and inquiries I will lay at your feet. As I stated I am not the first to make this journey, and I am certain that I will not be the last. Regardless, the journey is mine to make. I beg that you indulge me; I beg that you support me. But most of all dear Father, if I do not return, I beg that you forgive me.

With a heavy heart,

Your Prodigal Son

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On My Departure

Dearest Father,

I have left home. I cannot say I am surprised by this, and neither (I expect) can you. And no, that is not a reference to your wonderful gift of knowledge, which permits you to know anything you desire. No; even if you were of limited mind like me and the rest of my brethren, you must have been able to sense this inevitability through my behaviour these past years. I have left home, and I have taken with me my possessions, all that you have given me since the day I was born. I am writing specifically to you and not the rest of the Family because, well, they do not know that I have left. To them, I am simply not around. It is a testament to the size of both the Family and the Ground Floor that I can leave the House completely and no one would be able to tell I am gone. Those in my wing, my dearest, closest relatives, they would simply assume I am visiting another wing. And those in this supposed other wing? They have never met me; they will not be expecting me, and so they cannot be suspicious when I do not show up.

Keeping with tradition, you were absent when I shut the door behind me. You are always absent, even though the official Family line is: “You are Everywhere.” In fact, your apparent absence is among the reasons I left, but I am sure you already knew that. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to have you show up just this once, if only to bid me farewell. You cannot be happy that I am leaving, but I can cynically assume that some of my uncles and aunts Upstairs are slightly pleased by this turn of events; the celebration that is bound to ensue should I return is something I am sure they are looking forward too. Perhaps you share their joy. Regardless, happy or sad, I think, as all children do, that my Father should have been present for an event as momentous as this.

Your absence at the time of my departure is the primary reason I am writing to you. As I said, I took all my possessions. I have been told, however, that it is customary to give departing sons their inheritance as well. I have no idea what this inheritance could possibly be, but I am already giddy with anticipation. You are the greatest Father there is; one can only expect that the inheritance for your children would put the most opulent of humans to shame. I left a note with one of the guards at the gate before I left, but I have not received a reply. This letter addresses that. Without the peace of mind that comes from being at home, I find that I am in dire need of whatever tools you can send me. I know I left willingly, but you are my Father. Indulge me this last time, and I promise not to disturb you again. Besides, this is my inheritance, no?

In other news, the Outside is not nearly as scary as I was made to believe as a child. You cannot imagine (perhaps because you already know) the trepidation that gripped me as I opened the compound gate. I fully expected to be swarmed by You-Know-Who’s minions the moment I stepped out, immediately drowned in their calls and cries. But there was nary a whisper beyond the gates. In fact, had the gate not been standing behind me, I would have wondered if I had even left at all. All that is to say that I am faring quite well; I have seen nothing too shocking or out of the ordinary. I have, however, picked up a friend, a strange creature with tiny wings and bright eyes. It’s been flying beside me all day and even now, as I write, it watches me with its soft, tiny eyes. I am starting to suspect that it is one of his minions. Small fish like me probably deserve small watchers. I do not like it though; it’s eyes are a tad too piercing. I feel like it can stare into my head. Perhaps a tool in my inheritance kit will help me deal with it…

I’ll wrap up now. The bulk of my responsibilities have not changed since I left the House, and I must still attend to them. Alas the life of a young man remains largely the same, whether inside or Outside. I look forward to hearing from you Father; it can be very lonely on the other side of the gate.

With love,

Your Prodigal Son

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