"Dat is Jesus." Lucy points at a black woman as we walk into church. The woman's bald head and long tunic look out of place. She swings billowing full arms as she steps down the walk. One arm has mesh netting up to the elbow. Her tunic rustles in the hot summer air. She smiles oblivious to us.
"No," I fumble, "that's not Jesus." We whisk past them. I tug Lulie's hand. "But," I add, "however we treat other people is how we treat Jesus. So, I guess she sort of is Jesus." We swing arms, and Lucy presses a big silver disc to open the handicap door for us. In we go.
"So what's God been teaching you, Jack?" I glance at him in the rearview mirror. He watches passing cars, searches for the ice cream store.
"Nuffin'," he says, "'cause I can't hear him." He cranes his neck, looks down the road for a big red ice cream sign.
"Did you think you were going to hear him with your ears?" I ask.
I signal right to switch lanes and ease in behind a black Honda. "God doesn't speak very often to our ears," I say, "but deep inside your heart where your feelings happen and ideas about right and wrong," I glance back at his blue eyes and red hair grown shaggy with summer sun, "if you listen there," I raise my brow, "sometimes God speaks in a still. small. quiet. whisper."
He wrinkles his forehead. "So I listen with my heart?"
"Yeah." I slow, round the corner, and glide in under the red ice cream sign.
We shift into park. "What do you think about that?"
"Like it," he says and nods.
I click the key to off. For the next hour we build an arsenal of paper planes there in the ice cream parlor. We lick vanilla and chocolate off our spoons and test fly airplanes over the checkered linoleum. Square ones, pointed ones, short and fat, one slides under a giant freezer.
With each crease of the paper and flick of my wrist, I teach him something I love: paper airplanes. As he mimics my hands and cocks his head, as he gives me licks of his ice cream and says, "Here Momma, you try it first," I wonder at how he detects my every whisper. He seems to even hear the breaths between.
As he sits at my elbow, the afternoon splays open, and I sit in a small window of time where he hears even the stillness and smallness of my voice. And so we fold another plane, loft our effort into the air, and pray it flies.
1226. Fresh garden dill. And how it takes me right back two years ago canning dilly beans, the African children's choir here for a week.
1227. A bushell of beans from the farm delivered by hand and 10 fresh pints of dilly beans.
1227. The grace that comes when you realize the next season of your life will be different than you envisioned.
1228. How we study dermis and epidermis this week and Jack comments, "I tried pulling some of my hair out. I didn't really work that good."
1229. How Jane calls down a Target isle, "THink about the man you want to be!" when Jack grouses that he can't see from the cart.
1230. How I get home from running and step into a Nerf war. Bullets pelt me. Children thunder 'round the kitchen, Rosie strapped into Lulie's dolly stroller.
1231. How Rosie skitters around in the dolly stroller all squeals and waving arms.
1232. How Jack suggests we hang the paper airplanes with string from the ceiling.
1233. How Lulie declares, "I might be really BIG in heaven."
1234. How Jane eats cherry tomatoes whole, pops them open in her mouth and tells me, "No way to ruin a good tomato."
1235. Her plan of telling everyone about Jesus using a packet of cross stickers she earned.
1236. How when Lucy and Jack spill a tumbler of water on the computer desk, and I call out my dismay, Jane suggests, "Maybe Momma can lay in the recliner and we can all gather around her."
1237. How Jack says, "Guess what I was just doin'? Prayin' that the computer isn't wrecked."
1238. Sudafed for sinuses. Tylenol for headaches.
1239. Jack's help clearing the table and his, "I've got little legs, but I worked really fast," comment when I thank him for his help.
1240. How positively unrelentless parenting is. How it never, ever lets up. The ensuing endurance that emerges.
1241. Craig's advice via Bugs Bunny (and Teddy Roosevelt), "Speak softly, and carry a big stick." Learning to let consequences speak for themselves.
1242. Learning the art of apology again. And again.
1243. Craig's, "Well, the Nazis wouldn't have got one by you," when I blather on about politics.
1244. A nugget of wisdom: Learn to let your work be worship.
1245. French braids, dresses in sherbet stripes, boys in collared shirts, cousin pictures down on the farm with a wheelbarrow and wheat.
1246. Craig's dad another year older, his sons still certain he could take them.
1247. My momma's birthday and the fermata of love it leaves in my week, a friendship grown deeper with time.
1248. Craig's never-ending kindnesses to me, and how again and again he proves it true: A gentle answer really does turn away wrath.