For one year, I have heard this one word: return.
It is a word for the exile. For the younger son. For the wanderer.
It means home. It means healing. It means a new beginning.
“Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere … sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.”
Leviticus 25: 9-10
Stepping into this new year, I have been reluctant to let this word go. I have not wanted a new word, or a new anything, but only more. More of what has been given. More of what has begun.
But isn’t that an ugly word, more? A greedy, grasping word? I refused to embrace it, until all I could hear was more, more, more repeating like a drumbeat in my head.
I gave in. I agreed to claim it … silently. I wouldn’t speak it out loud. How could I admit that my word, my prayer, for this year is so ugly? So easily misunderstood?
Until this day. It was three parts hair-pulling crazy (because no one can buckle their own skates, and the baby was determined to hurl herself out of the sled to faceplant in the snow), but it was one part glorious. A frozen pond for skating only yards from our front porch. Three children with Christmas-gift ice skates. On a Saturday. While the sun shone.
It was one part perfection. One part pure glory.
And it ended as abruptly as a bubble bursts. The older boy fell. The baby really was determined. But as we trudged back toward the house, the younger boy crying that his boots were full of snow, all I could think was we will return. There will be more skating. Every year, there will be more. I pictured a day when every child could strap on their own skates. A day when even my husband and I could step into skates and glide along. This is only the beginning, I thought.
The return is never a dead-end. No one returns to God only to say, “Now what?”
Instead, we turn toward God and see a door. Walking through the doorway, we discover … more. There is always more. To use the words of C. S. Lewis, “Come further up, come further in!”
To return to God is a way of life. It is a turning back toward wholeness, toward peace. It is like finding a home and feeling yourself stretching out to meet the years to come. Like a tree planted by water, those roots growing deep and deeper.
This is our second year at Maplehurst, and my word is more.
It is a song of praise. It is a song of joy. It is the song of the wanderer who has found rest.
And I cry, more, more, more.