The prodigal father

With his heart pounding in his chest, Pyotr shot upright in bed. He looked around in the dark as if to convince himself that he was at home and not still in the scene of the recurring nightmare he had just woken up from. Through the gap between the curtains, he could see the full moon as it spread its soft light over the Earth like a mother would lay a blanket over her sleeping child.

It reminded him of the countless times that he had put his daughter Anastasia to bed before that horrific day more than twenty- years ago. The day Anastasia disappeared along with Pyotr’s lust for life. As his spirit slowly numbed, he had begun to distance himself from everyone. He and his wife divorced and she moved to the city, leaving him behind in their wooden house at the edge of the forest in the Russian Caucasus where he secluded himself. The only time he left the house was to go to work at the sawmill or to get supplies in the little town nearby. 

Moby – Lie Down In Darkness

Pyotr lay silently, thinking about the nightmare for a while. When the sun began to rise, he got up and dressed himself in the same clothes he had been wearing for more than a week. He did not bother washing and shaving himself, for he had stopped taking proper care of himself a long time ago. After visiting the toilet, he went straight to the kitchen where he ate last night’s cold leftovers at the small round table. He washed his breakfast down with a glass of water. Then he stood up, placed the plate on top of the stack of dirty dishes in the sink and went to the living room.

There he stood and stared out the window as he did every day when he was off work. His eyes were dull and no longer had that sparkle that had once brought a smile to many faces. In the first few months of mourning, he had taken out his anger and feelings of powerlessness on his wife. After she had left him, his anger subsided. Unable to deal with the grief that overcame him, he shut himself off from his feelings and his broken heart. Strangely enough, the pain was gone, or so he thought. Deep down inside and masked by his cold and hardened exterior, the pain began to fester like a neglected wound.

Sighing deeply, Pyotr put on his beanie and coat and left the house. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining brightly and he began to regret dressing so warmly out of habit. He took off his beanie and coat and made his way down the track into the pine forest. As he walked at a slow but steady pace, he took the time to take in the surroundings. That was when he noticed the rays of the sun penetrating the shards of mist before him. There was something about it that made him stop and observe what was happening for a while. It felt as if there was a message in this for him that he could not figure out.

“Hmm,” he sighed, shrugging his shoulders, and continued walking. He soon forgot what he had just witnessed and tried to focus inwards again. However, although he had taken this route so many times before, today felt different. He was distracted by what was going on around him and he was unable to immerse himself in thought as usual. He frowned, wondering what was going on. Then, just as he was about to give it further thought, he saw something from the corner of his eye that made him stop in his tracks.

He looked to his left and was surprised to see a roe deer doe looking at him from between the oak trees a stone’s throw away. Their eyes locked and Pyotr lost all sense of time. In his mind, the magnificent creature and her surroundings began to blur and take on a different form until he found himself standing in a meadow in the middle of summer. The scene seemed familiar and the longer he stood there, the more he began to believe that he was reliving an event from the past. His belief was confirmed by the sound of children’s laughter to his right.

He looked to where the laughter was coming from. “Anastasia,” he whispered with a hint of hope in his voice, as he saw his nine year-old daughter running down the slope that led to their house. His heart melted with love. “Anastasia,” he repeated, only louder this time so that she would hear him. But Anastasia kept on running. Then a man ran past Pyotr, laughing just as loud as she. Instantly, Pyotr realized who the man was. “You’ll never catch me, Daddy!” Anastasia laughed. “Oh yes, I will,” Pyotr heard the younger version of himself shouting in mock earnest.

The warm sensation in Pjotr’s heart stopped and made way for a sharp painful feeling as if he had been stabbed there with a dagger. With tears welling in his eyes, Pyotr returned to the present moment on the track in the forest to find that the roe deer had disappeared. “Anastasia,” he whispered, only this time his voice reflected the deep feeling of disappointment that had gotten hold of him. Aware of the tone in his voice, he brought his fingertips to his glistening cheeks. It was not until then that he realized he was crying.

With tears pouring down his face, Pyotr began to laugh. He laughed louder and louder, as if to assure himself that he was actually laughing, for he had not laughed or cried in a very long time. “Pyotr,” he thought he heard a soft and warm voice behind him say.
He turned around and came face to face with the doe again. This time she stood no more than ten paces away in the middle of the track. Pyotr stood silently, waiting for her to take the initiative. She did so by pointing her nose in the direction Pyotr had come from. Then she turned around with a jolt and trotted off. Pyotr wasted no time in going after her. She was picking up speed and he had to run as fast as he could to keep up.

Luckily, she soon slowed down further down the track. She left the track and entered a field to her right. When Pyotr got there, he saw her standing in a sea of tall grass and various kinds of wildflowers. She looked at him with a look of recognition. Again Pyotr stood silently and looked into her warm and inviting eyes. Instantly, he returned to the past to a field similar to the one where the doe now stood. Only, instead of grass and wildflowers, there was an abundance of wheat and a scattering of cornflowers.

On seeing the cornflowers, he felt a small hand sliding into his. A sensation resembling a mild electric shock, albeit pleasant, jolted him and sent a warm flow of energy through his entire body.
“Aren’t they wonderful, Daddy,” he heard a young girl’s voice say. He looked down to his left to see Anastasia smiling up at him.
“Yes, they are, sweetie,” he replied while his heart glowed with joy. “They’re just like you.”
Anastasia giggled. “Thank you.”
Pyotr smiled at her, feeling immense gratitude for the gift of such a wonderful daughter. He turned his gaze from her radiant face to the cornflowers again. To his delight, he saw countless mayflies hovering above the beautiful blue blooms that were covered in a golden hue from the dappled light of the rising sun.

However, he did not get the chance to fully enjoy the moment, as he suddenly returned to the present on the track by the field. This time he was relieved to see the doe still standing there. She looked at him with such intensity that it felt as if she wanted to say something. Or, to be precise, that someone wanted to speak through her.
“Yes, Anastasia,” Pyotr replied as Anastasia’s face reappeared before him.
“Do you believe in miracles?”
Pyotr smiled. She always knew how to find her way to his heart. “Yes, I do. Do you?”
“Yes, I do too,” Anastasia replied with a twinkle in her eyes that told him she was feeling content.

Anastasia’s reply reminded him of the moments he had spent with her. Those precious moments that he had not fully appreciated at the time. Yes, he heard the doe say to him in his mind, you’re feeling regretful now that what you love so dearly is no longer here. Pyotr smiled wryly. If only he had enjoyed those seemingly brief moments more, as it turned out that these had also been the most valuable moments. “Thank you,” he said out loud to the doe. The doe blinked in reply before darting off further into the field. Pyotr watched her go until she finally disappeared beyond the horizon.

With a deep sigh, Pyotr went back to the track and started walking home. Strangely enough, his encounter with Anastasia through the roe deer did not feel like a final goodbye. If anything, it had brought his daughter back to life, albeit in his inner world. It had also sparked a change in his outlook on life. He smiled, emanating the warmth that he felt deep inside. Reconnecting with his beloved daughter had got the fire in his belly burning once again to thaw the icy walls around his heart. In the span of an hour his temperament had changed. He no longer felt emotionally numb but vibrant and energetic instead.

Savouring his refound zest for life, Pyotr arrived home. He walked to the front door but hesitated to take hold of the handle. Something had changed, although he could not figure out what. instinctively, he walked away from the door towards the window of the living room. To his surprise, it looked neat and tidy inside. There was even a vase with freshly picked cornflowers on the side table. Wide-eyed, he took in the scene before him. Then, just as he was about to go back to the door, the door opened and a beautiful young woman stepped out on to the doorstep.
“Hello Dad,” she said, smiling radiantly.
Pyotr rushed over to her. Laughing and sobbing at the same time, he wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.
“Anastasia, I’ve missed you so much.”
“I missed you too, Dad, but luckily, I believe in miracles.”
On hearing her words, Pyotr let go of her. Smiling warmly, he gently cupped her face in his hands and with his eyes closed he kissed her on her forehead.
“So do I, sweetheart. So do I.”

A few days later, Pyotr and Anastasia returned to the field where, many years ago, they had looked in wonder at the cornflowers and the mayflies hovering in the morning light. As they strolled along the perimeter of the field, Anastasia gently swept her hand over the top of the hip-high sheafs of wheat. She did not have to ask her father what was going on inside of him to know that he had discovered that it was not really his daughter who he had lost but himself.

Now he understood that when we lose someone very dear to us, be it temporarily or permanently, we also lose ourselves. In fact, we lose ourselves first and then see reflected in our experiences that we have also lost touch with the people we love most. Not always literally, mostly just the experience of the connection we have with them. Fortunately, when we have the courage to feel the depth of our loss, we are able to reconnect with ourselves. Then we discover that we never really lose anyone or anything, as the connection is always there. Once we are conscious of this, we begin to heal and live with passion once again. That is how miracles happen.

Moby – Love Of Strings

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Symbolism & Terminology

Pyotr: Pyotr is a Russian boy’s name, originally from the Greek word ‘petra’, meaning ‘rock’
Anastasia: Anastasia is a Russian girl’s name, originally from the Greek word ‘anastasis’, meaning ‘resurrection’
Roe deer: the roe deer symbolizes gentleness, innocence, grace, fertility and feminine power
Cornflower: the cornflower symbolizes: love, fertility, hope, anticipation, devotion and magic.
Mayfly: the mayfly symbolizes: transformation, the beauty and brevity of life, and the importance of consciously living every moment


‘Nature’ by Flo on Pixabay
‘Man’ by Pexels on Pixabay
‘Mystical Forest’ by Nordseher on Pixabay
‘Deer’ by Danny112 on Pixabay
‘Child’ by TheOtherKev on Pixabay
‘Deer’ by Bilderwelt68 on Pixabay
‘Cornflowers’ by Kranich17 on Pixabay
‘Deer’ by Apnear40 on Pixabay
‘Woman’ by Elenawe on Pixabay
‘Hand’ by Panosbp on Pixabay


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