The cherry trees behind our house may be old, but they are scattering yellow leaves like overeager flower girls before a wedding.
It isn’t time yet, I whisper.
But it is time. No matter what the calendar says, it is time. I know because I have seen this once before. On August first, we began our second year at Maplehurst, and this, yellow leaves on green grass, is the first return.
The first year is a surprise. The second is a return.
She is eleven months going on all-grown-up, and I have unpacked some of her older sister’s clothes. Here is the white dress Lily wore in her one-year-old portrait. Here is the rainbow-striped sunhat she wore our first summer in our 48th Street condo.
We no longer live in that city, though it was the first place that ever felt like home to me.
My first baby girl is also lost (replaced by a nearly-ten-year-old whose legs look impossibly long in their roller skates). Of course, she returns in memory, she returns in the soft curve of her baby sister’s chin, and, who knows, maybe she’ll show up again when I unpack this dress for a grandbaby someday.
Nothing good is ever truly lost (which is another way of saying that all is being made new).
Today, I reread my journal. I remember the wandering years. Those drought years when the smoke of Florida wildfires was like a pillar of cloud. Back then, I wrote down the words of Zechariah.
Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will … return. I will bring them back.
Moving to this place one year ago felt like this return. Once again, we would know the rush of four seasons, the familiarity of a good friend’s face, the comforting rightness of the words this is my home. All this while watching another baby girl grow.
But return is not a one-time thing.
One year in, and I know that life with God is all about return. I am returned. And every day I am returning.
The prophet’s words tell the story of my life. Of my rescue. They also tell the story of the world:
Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence (Hosea 6:1-2).
We die so many deaths, but we are never lost. The son of God gives himself up but is returned to us on the third day. And every day this world is made new.
If creation sings, then those are the words to her song. It is a song about birth. It is a song about coming home. It is the song of our God and our world.
I have seen these yellow cherry leaves before, yet I have never seen them before.
They have returned. They are new.
At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.
your syntax is exquisite.
Oh, Cindy, you know how to make an English major blush. No, seriously, I am blushing.
oh this: “We die so many deaths, but we are never lost. The son of God gives himself up but is returned to us on the third day. And every day this world is made new.
this is just so beautiful, Christie. I have sat here reading and re-reading this glory over and over. Amazing.
Oh, thank you, Kris. And it is glory, isn’t it? Though I can take no credit. God’s story, God’s song – they are so beautiful. So good.
I was just thinking last night about the song of heaven, and how we hear it in our lives. I NEED to writ the thoughts down before they vanish into the mist. It’s a hard thing to put words to, and here you did it beautifully. 🙂
“Nothing good is ever truly lost”–this phrase always makes me cry. I don’t know why, but it does.
Breathtaking, Christie. Thank you.
Thank you, Friend, for the words of redemption and resurrection and God’s creating and recreating. I needed this today.
And oh, what a joy to read such beautiful sentences!
“Today, I reread my journal. I remember the wandering years. Those drought years when the smoke of Florida wildfires was like a pillar of cloud.”
Blessings on your last week of true summer.