Going home

I love this story; you may have heard it, or a version of it:

A minister had gotten aboard a train headed home. He sat next to a young lad, maybe fifteen years old, who seemed to be distressed. He spoke to the young man and said, “It’s nice to be going home, isn’t it?” and the young man replied, “Well sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.”

The minister then noticed he had been crying and said to him, “I don’t mean to intrude and if you don’t want to tell me what your problems are you don’t have to, but I am a minister and maybe I can help.” The young man answered, “Well, I do need to talk to somebody. A few months ago, in a fit of anger and self-pity, I ran away from home and I don’t know if it would be good for me to go home or not.” The minister said, “Why not?”

The youngster said, “I have done some things that are just wrong. I know it has hurt my dad and I’m not sure he will forgive me. I wrote him a letter and said I would be on this train and if he wants me back to just hang a rag in the tree close to the railroad
tracks where we live.” The
minister asked, “Will you be able to see the rag?” and the young man said, “Yes, but as we get closer, I can’t bare to look. I’m so afraid there won’t be a rag in the tree.”

The young man was weeping again. The minister said, “You just look away and I’ll watch for you.” As the train slowed down and started to come to a stop the minister said, “Okay it’s fine to look now.” When the young man looked out there was not only one rag in the tree it was flooded with rags clearly sending the message: “Welcome home son.”

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