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Still nursing my body from the book I just birthed, I jumped right in and launched a website. It was very much like bringing a baby home from the hospital and getting dressed to take the rest of the kids to a baseball game the next day. Sorry, men, if female language makes you queasy, I promise to balance it out with a sports reference. See how I did that?

I imagined the image on the home page of my site as a sweeping nature shot, somewhere in my beloved Rocky Mountains, complete with a winding road and an open gate. The idea being, “let’s welcome our prodigals home together.”

As we were curating the site, I sent my brother-in-law a mountain image from my son’s wedding as an example for the home page. As he played with the images, he was drawn to another image from my son’s wedding: the mother/son dance.

My future holds two more son’s weddings and two more chances at a dignified mother/son dance.

This dance was anything but dignified. It was a culmination of my journey as a mom of a prodigal son. It was a Luke Chapter 15 moment, where the earthly and heavenly rejoicing over my found son struck us both like a thunderbolt of emotion and gratitude. It was an over-the-top, public, sloppy confirmation of redemptive love.

Our dance brought new meaning to the term “ugly cry.”

The redemptive love described through the heart of the shepherd, the woman who lost her coin, and the prodigal’s father in Luke Chapter 15 became a life-line for me. The undignified love of the father was on display through every word. The reconciliation of the prodigal son hinged on the father’s response. HE was the one who made full reconciliation available. He was eager to restore relationship. He didn’t make the son wait outside the city gates, bearing the community’s dishonor by himself. By that time, the community no doubt held the son in profound contempt.

The father wasn’t granting a small measure of mercy and a re-payment schedule, he was eager to forgive. Freely and completely. There was nothing small about his response.

He ran. 

Before the son spoke one word of his prepared speech, forgiveness was extended. He hitched up his robe, showed his bare dad legs, and took off in a full-on sprint. He humbled himself and humiliated himself by running. It was the loudest restoring to sonship his community had ever seen. Not only did he love his son, but he took on shame and willingly wiped his dirty slate clean. He held nothing back to restore his son. He was reckless with his forgiveness. Honor upon honor after receiving dishonor upon dishonor. What?!

The best of all he had belonged to his son. Shoes. Robe. Ring. Fatted Calf. Feast. Dancing. Rejoicing. Like other examples of Biblical forgiveness, it was lavish. Otherworldly. Undignified. Extraordinary and over the top. 

Somehow, through our journey, with the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we needed to move forward with the heart of the shepherd, the woman who lost her coin, and the prodigal’s father. They couldn’t remain high and above it all. There was no distancing themselves in safety. They stooped down and rolled up their sleeves in relentless pursuit.

Our stooping down and rolling up our sleeves was the best decision of our lives.

So here’s the image, in all it’s glorious crispness. All the heaving messy sobs for all the guests to see. Instead of defined Michelle Obama arms, like I imagine myself having, my arms tell the truth: “she loves tortillas more than she loves treadmills.” Instead of sweetly dabbing my eyes with some measure of composure, my grateful heart broke wide open and spilled in a thousand pieces over the dance floor. No Kleenex could contain the mess we made.