James M. Chesbro’s essays have been listed as notable selections in The Best American Essays 2012, 2104, and The Best American Sports Writing 2014. His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, The Huffington Post, AOL.com, The Good Men Project, Superstition Review,Weston Magazine, and Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality.
James is the co-editor of You: An Anthology of Essays Devoted to the Second Person (Welcome Table Press, 2013). He teaches at Fairfield Prep and at Fairfield University, where he earned an MFA, with distinction. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and children.
“The Return of the Prodigal Father” appears in the fall issue of Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality. I’m grateful to editor, Douglas E. Christie, for accepting the essay and including the following words about it in his editor’s note:
“Chesbro asks us to consider the powerful transformation that can occur when a much loved (and perhaps overly familiar) sacred text reveals a new, unexpected but utterly necessary meaning; when you suddenly realize that you have to set out along a very different path from the one you have been walking all along.”
What I wish we could do as a culture is push aside all the noise in social media about the schleppy mundane aspects of parenting, about how children should Go the F**k to Sleep. I wish we could dismiss the alarmists and the prescriptive fix-all guide books and make more room in the publishing landscape for the humble voices confiding wisdom.
When the editors of Superstition Review asked me about the inspiration for this essay, for their newsletter, I told them I started writing this piece as an attempt to make sense of the guilt I felt in throwing out some of my deceased father’s belongings–that I wanted to explore what was worth keeping, why some of the objects were a source of consolation, to see if my associations to the thing I was essaying might provide a pathway to the origin of the emotional charge the object delivered. “From the Rust and Sawdust” appears in the fall issue, which you can read here, or listen here. “From the Rust and Sawdust” was selected as a notable essay for The Best American Essays 2014.
The Eagles have the power to close any gaps between my father and me. I don’t ever really question why it matters so much, but I accept Dad’s prayerful bursts to the holy family as Eucharist. The team feeds our relationship. It is a subject of immediate and uncontested agreement between us. Touchdowns mean yelling, a shared grin, possibly a high five. An Eagles interception or a shanked field-goal attempt mean calling upon Jesus Christ, or simply groaning incomprehensibly to each other as some constipated people tend to do privately.