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Waiting Hopefully

The Washington Post last week reported a story that could be a real, modern-day version of the parable of Jesus generally called the story of the "prodigal son." Twenty-five years ago, a bullet struck Pat Hawkins in the head just three months after she gave birth to a son. She survived, but has struggled with memory loss ever since. A couple of months later, she walked out of her mother's home and disappeared. Nine years later she suddenly returned without explanation for where she had been. Then she left again. She called a year later, but in the last 15 years her family had not heard from her--and did not even know if she was alive. Yet, her mother--like the father in the prodigal son story--refused to give up hope. She believed her daughter would return home. Here is how the Washington Post put it:
For 25 years, Martha Hawkins Poole refused to move out of her home in Richmond, Calif. If she left, how would her daughter find her way home? Other relatives didn't like to say what they were thinking: that Pat was no longer alive, that she was never coming back. ... But her mother always behaved as if her daughter were coming home. "She never lost the faith," Holmes said, adding that, as one family member put it, "If Martha ever found out that Pat wasn't alive, she would just fold up and die."
It is a nice touch to the story to think of the hopeful parent waiting by the window for the missing child to return and then going even further in enacting that hope by even refusing to sell the house. Martha's faith was rewarded. In November, Pat suddenly remembered something--her mother's home address. With that information, a nurse at a hospital was able to contact Pat's mother and reunite Pat with her mother, son, and other family members. For years Pat had been not only far from home, but even homeless. She had ended up in Washington, D.C., far from her mother's home in California. And then one day--like the prodigal son--she came to her right mind and remembered her mother's home. Although her memory will never be fully restored, she has been reunited. It is a powerful story. And perhaps we find not just an echo of Luke 15, but a reminder of how God waits for us.

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