One more year.
That’s what Mom and Dad tell me.
One more year of living in this foreign man’s house. One more year of sweeping his floor. Of milking his cows and tending his crops.
One more year till we get to go home.
At first I didn’t know what they meant. Home? Isn’t this home? This is the only place I have ever lived. Same with my brother and sister. You mean there is somewhere else we can go?
Yes, they say. And very soon.
Long ago, before we all were born, our family lived on a good piece of land. My grandfather grew up there and when his father died, he became the owner of the land.
But shortly after he and my grandmother were married, there was a famine. The crops died. The animals got sick. My grandparents fell into serious debt. They had to mortgage the land and sell the remaining healthy animals, but even that money ran out.
That’s when they met the Egyptian.
He said they could come stay with him and be his servants. He wouldn’t pay much, but they could begin to pay off the debt they owed.
With no other options, they took his offer.
My own father was born the next year. He lived with the Egyptian’s family and eventually took a wife of his own who came to live with him there.
This man’s house is all we have ever known. I don’t mind it, but Mom and Dad always seem a little sad; like there is somewhere they wish they could be or something else they wish they were doing.
I hear them speak to each other at night when I pretend to be asleep.
“I want to work in the fields,” my father says, “my own fields.”
Then they whisper something to each other that I can barely hear – as if saying it aloud will scare it off and make it run away like the scapegoat the priests release each year.
Even from across the room, I can feel their hope rising as they speak.
“Jubilee is coming.”
Jubilee. I don’t even know what it means but it sounds like the happiest word in the world.
The next morning I ask my mother what Jubilee is.
The look of surprise melts into the gentle smile that I am pretty sure won my father’s heart when they were younger.
“Come outside with me, little one. I will tell you.”
We walk out into the pasture to check on the goats.
“Jubilee,” my mother says, “means one more year.”
“What?” I reply.
“Long ago, when the LORD gave Moses the law on Mt. Sinai, he said that every fifty years, all of his people were to return to their ancestral land. They were to go home. If they had sold their land, it was returned to them. If they became slaves or bonded laborers, they were freed. Do you understand?
“I think so.”
“Next year, my beautiful daughter, is the Year of Jubilee.”
Suddenly, the whispered words in the dead of night begin to take flight. The world begins to explode with possibilities and potential.
Hope begins to swell inside me. I’m not even sure how I know what hope is. But I know that this is it.
“One more year?” I ask, my eyes about as big as they have ever been.
“Yes, my child. One more year.”