As I did with yesterday's prayer, I will go through today's, line by line, to draw out its surprisingly rich meaning.
Father, my home awaits my glad return.
This prayer draws on the classic image of homecoming. Here we have the archetypal loving home, a home that eagerly awaits our return. They know that their favored son is on his way back, and the place is all ready for him, everything in place, the family filled with joy and excitement. And we, that favored son, are returning not in apprehension but in gladness. It is a homecoming of mutual delight, a joyous reunion.
To say this line and mean it, then, means believing that Heaven is waiting for you in this spirit. Can you imagine the residents of Heaven being your true family, and as your family, missing you? And eagerly awaiting your joyous return? Try to suspend your disbelief while you pray this line and really imagine this being true.
Your Arms are open and I hear Your Voice.
In light of what I said about homecoming, you can surely understand the image in this line. God like a loving mother on the front porch, with her arms are open to greet her son and with her voice calling him home. What do you imagine that mother feeling? Eagerness. Excitement. Longing. Anticipation. Joy. A full heart. We know this image well enough to know that her mind is on one thing only: the return of her beloved child.
Again, can we imagine that God awaits our return in this way? To really mean this line, we have to suspend our disbelief and imagine that very thing.
What need have I to linger in a place of vain desires and of shattered dreams, when Heaven can so easily be mine?
Now the picture is clear. The favored son is debating whether he should come home or not. He's chosen to stay away, for reasons that made sense to him, but that ultimately make no sense whatsoever. For the far country in which he has exiled himself is "a place of vain desires and shattered dreams." "Vain" here means "unsuccessful," so the place is one in which desires and dreams always go unfulfilled. In this place, we desire and dream and yearn, on and on, without success. We constantly reach out for a prize we can never grasp.
Notice the phrase "Heaven can so easily be mine." This means that the impediment is entirely on our side. We saw the picture of Heaven as eagerly awaiting our return, of God calling us home with Arms open wide. So there's no impediment on Heaven's side. This is a rift, in other words, in which one side has stayed away brooding, while the other side has felt nothing but love, nothing but longing for reunion. How hard is it to bridge a gap like that?
Given all that, why linger in this far country? Why not just go home right now? What are we waiting for?