Midweek Faith Lift
November 2, 2022
The Parable of the Prodigal Son-Part 2
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
October 5, 2022
Alain Aspect, John Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger have won the Nobel Prize in physics for their landmark achievements in quantum mechanics – the study of the behavior of particles and atoms. The trio won for their experiments with what’s known as entanglement – a mind-boggling phenomenon when two particles behave as one, even though they’re at a vast distance to one another. Albert Einstein once described the phenomenon as “spooky,” but the three physicists showed that quantum entanglement is real and could allow the transfer of information across huge distances.
“Scientists have shown that sub-atomic particles, once physically connected, then separated, are still connected. The particles can be eons apart, but when there is a shift or a movement in one, the other shifts in like manner. A rotation by one particle is matched by the other particle, no matter how great their distance. Scientists refer to the phenomenon as ‘quantum entanglement.’ Mystics and prophets have called it ‘Oneness.’”– Scott Awbrey
Affirmative prayer: I tap into the vibration of my true Self, a spiritual current that affirms my oneness with the Divine and with all that exists. I feel a complete union with my life partners. We are One, blessed by Infinite Love. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
This week we are exploring the second half of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The first part was all about the younger son taking his inheritance and choosing to become “lost” and then finding himself and returning home to his higher consciousness, his true self. He was welcomed profusely with great celebration and love with no recrimination or guilt trips from his “father” who had been awaiting his return. So what’s the hang-up?
Well, he has an older brother, who is less than delighted with his return. Let’s revisit the part of the story about the older brother. It goes like this:
25 “Now his elder son was in the field, and as he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ “(NRSV- UE)
Well, in the older brother we have the picture of what most people would feel is justifiable “self-righteous” anger because he has been faithful, loyal and hard working and yet unacknowledged by his father. He feels ripped off and unfairly treated and is so angry he will not even allow himself to be a part of the celebration for the return of his younger brother. Sibling rivalry is an ancient story, isn’t it?
Here we have two sons and the bottom line in this story is that they both “went away.” We don’t have any clue as to why the younger one wanted to leave, just that he did, and then after being a far country of riotous living and hitting bottom, he came to his senses and returned home. But the story illustrated that the older brother, while still at home went away too! He went to a tiny little country in the south of France called “Resent Mont!” He is literally buried by a mountain of resentment, which is as deadening as the addictive, riotous living of the younger brother. And while his father offers him an explanation and an invitation, it is not clear whether he accepts it at all. Such a putz! Humility is not his long suit, and as long as he stays stuck, he is sure to be unhappy.
So what do quantum physics and the “Law of Entanglement” have to do with this parable? Well it is operating on several levels in this story. First of all there is a process in quantum physics, which I truly don’t understand, whereby two particles are charged with a photon of energy and they split the charge, which results in the two becoming “entangled.” What that means is that they impact one another no matter how physically distanced they are from each other. And the typical impact is that they oppose one another, i.e., whatever one particle does, the other does the exact opposite. Kinda like these brothers, right? They are entangled energetically, whether aware of it or not! What the younger brother does impacts the older brother’s sense of joy and happiness no matter what their father tells him.
This kind of “emotional entanglement” is a special kind of “stuckness” that is so deadening and disheartening. And yet we all get stuck in it, don’t we? It is easy to get caught up in our own feelings of being wronged, of life being unfair and see others as getting a much better deal than we have. When it is a sibling or our own child, it is really a challenge, isn’t it? I have spent some time in the “south of France” in Resent Mont, and it is no fun at all. When you are there, it is so easy to stay constantly aware of what is happening to the other “particle” of your entanglement and keep reacting and reacting. When you are so entangled, the “other” person lives in your head rent free because they are a constant part of how you see the world, how you feel about and react to everything that happens to you.
How do you “disentangle” when you get that stuck? Well that too, is a process and it requires humility, which cannot co-exist with angry self-righteousness. The older brother also has clearly not experienced much fun in his life, but the story tells us that is by his choice. When he points that out to his father, the response is, “Son, everything I have is yours!” And we could also note that the older son did not ask….the younger son did! When you get over yourself, and humbly ask, you, too will receive and there will be a party and feasting and joy! But you first have to realize you are lost and that you have in fact gone away even as you are still physically present. Resentment is not a pretty place.
So how do you get unstuck? Well, there is a clue in the story in that you first have to ask, just as the younger son asked for his inheritance. Then you have to step away, make some mistakes so that you have a chance to learn from them. You have to get out of your comfort zone, even if it is risky. The underlying message is that you may have to take big risks and it may not go very well. It is in taking the risk, in the undoing of what you think you “know” is right that the seeds of Truth, change, of growth, of humility and rebirth are made real. It is then that you are truly able to fully “come home” and are no longer lost.
It is often in doing the “opposite” of what is expected that real growth is realized. That is part of this message, too. This is the process that resulted for example, in Gandhi moving toward non-violent resistance as a response to oppression in India. It was that same process of non-violent resistance that inspired Dr. King and the whole civil rights movement. They both realized that meeting violence with more of the same would only get more violence. You don’t have to be a Dr. King or Mahatma Gandhi to have this energy of entanglement work for you. On a very personal level, it is possible to lean in and listen for the “next right step” out of your dilemma. Then you pray for the energy, clarity and willingness to take that step even if on the surface it makes no sense. That is faith and that is the mystery.
This whole process of entanglement is truly a mystery that scientists cannot fully explain. Just because we cannot fully comprehend a mystery does not mean that we cannot work with the energy of it. We work with the energy of gravity all the time, right? How can we move from the reactive entanglement of the two prodigal sons to a place of engagement where their energies can work together and complement each other? Jesus was very clear in this story that staying stuck, even if it seems to be the “correct” path, is not really productive nor does it bring us much joy.
If we listen carefully to the words of the father, the observer, in this parable, then we have the real key. It is not about the material “stuff,” it is about where our consciousness is. The father tells his older son that everything he has also belongs to the older son, too. Every joy, every hope, every awareness of how good life is ….all of that is there for the younger son when he too, comes back from the deadness of being lost in resentment. This observer self doesn’t judge either one for getting lost in all the ways they are lost. What the Father does note is that when the positive higher consciousness comes alive and is realized, we celebrate no matter what. We do impact each other, we are “entangled” with each other, and that is a part of the mystery of life. So let’s celebrate already!
As Albert Einstein said:
“There's no question dolphins are smarter than humans as they play more.”
Blessings on the Path,