It all began Thanksgiving break when my hubby and I traveled to see his family in their Illinois hometown. In an effort to stay outside in the fresh air the two youngest nieces and I took a walk through the neighborhood. We set out on our journey to the little lake just down the hill.
As we drew closer I said, “Let’s go skip a rock.”
“Skiparock, what’s that?” the youngest asked.
We headed down to the water’s edge and the lesson began. They made a few attempts as I coached them in the art of skipping rocks. A few practice throws didn’t bring success, and as the oldest prepared to make another attempt we heard, “Hey you! Stop throwing rocks in the lake!”
The youngest questioned what was wrong with playing skiparock. The oldest remained quiet. I was a bit miffed at the thought that we just got in trouble for skipping rocks in what this country girl considered a small pond. I mean if Canadian geese are allowed to do their business in every corner of the “lake” what’s the harm of a few small rocks? Was there some unknown danger? Could we possibly throw so many the displaced water would flood the houses? If we continued would the police be called? I envisioned the headlines, “Aunt from Texas arrested for teaching nieces to skip rocks on Thanksgiving Day.”
I wanted to pout. I wanted to skip one more just to see how the grumpy bumpkin might respond, but I was pretty sure a lesson on how to be disrespectful might land me in “she can’t be alone with the kids” category. So with a sigh we continued on, but the abrupt stop to our lesson left me a bit dejected and sad.
Just a few short weeks later we traveled north and the in-laws drove south to celebrate Christmas on the river. It was beautiful day to be outside. The girls and I hiked the nature trail. We read information signs about birds living in this area and watched in awe as two blue herons flew close. The youngest carried her backup muffin and a bag of chips for fire starter just in case we got lost.
The path led us close to the water. She smiled her toothless grin up at me, “Look at all these rocks! Can we play skiparock?”
And just like that what I thought was lost returned.
Four days on the Road to Epiphany I’m reminded I serve a God that returns things I’ve lost.
Not the other way around.
What I mean is most of the time we can’t return to the place we’ve come from. On this New Year’s Eve when I want to forget this year ever happened, there will be no returning to the world I knew a year ago. Mistakes I made along the way cannot be undone. Lessons learned won’t be unlearned. I’ve grieved the way things used to be. I’ve ugly cried over wearing masks and trying to decide if hugging is safe. I don’t like the feeling of constraint or quarantine.
Thanksgiving day I walked away from the lake and let go of the skipping rock lesson. I never expected to return to it.
I think I’ll do the same this night. I’ll walk out of 2020 and into 2021confident I serve a God who is in the business of returning things that are lost. I’ll put down my expectations and keep walking this faith road. If along the way God returns something lost, you can believe it will be better.
Kind of like the way my niece transformed skipping rocks into a game of “Skiparock.”