The balm of wet foliage, as rain drizzled down the eaves of the cracked open window, nudged my senses from seasons past.

My Dad and I both loved the autumn rain that smothered the fallen leaves on our driveway, slick with a burst of browns, burnt reds and oranges.  The sights each year were only overshadowed by the sweet earthy scent that summoned me into a nostalgia of ends, but with hopes of new beginnings.

But there was no hope on this day.  My homes over the years had been legion, and my childhood home, a place of my past.  And this day I was visiting a new “home to be”, a new city.  But my heart ached for something different, for mine was a prodigal heart.  I had spiritually left my God’s estate and set off for a distant country, distancing myself from the One who knew me best.  I was hungry and among the pigs.  The beauty of the autumn rain, which had brought such joy, now filled my heart with only pain.  I longed to escape, at least part of me, while the other side of me was still spending everything I had on emptiness.  But the Father was watching for me, waiting when I was still a long way off.

I look back upon that weekend from a different place today.  My prodigal heart has returned. It’s been years since that weekend and the terrible and painful return.  But it’s also been beautiful.  God’s love, grace and mercy shine brightly against its backdrop.

The autumn rains now hold not only the past, but the future of God’s goodness in my life as He washes away all that is ugly and renews me.  Even now, in my later years, my senses are flooded over with sweetness as heaven’s moisture meets earth.

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