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Strolling through the River Gallery Sculpture Garden in the Bluff View Arts District in Chattanooga has become a common weekend activity for me. It is both naturally refreshing with the lush plant life and views of the Tennessee River as well as artistically pleasing.

The sculptures are widely varied with most open to broad interpretation. My favorite, however, is one of the more clearly identified sculptures: “The Prodigal Son” by Leonard Baskin, who also lent his talents to the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.

His bronze interpretation of Jesus’ famed parable puts the wayward son and the welcoming father in a warm face-to-face embrace. Their garments have been interwoven to express a strong bond that cannot be broken by even disobedience and distance.

The remarkable story recorded in Luke 15:11f portrays God in a way not usually associated with a deity. This is not some distant god who must be awaken or appeased, but One eager to run down the driveway to offer forgiveness ahead of the confession.

As Jesus put it: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20).”

A visual reminder of that kind of unconditional love and unending grace is worth going back to see again and again.

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