That radiant smile clothed his heart in warmth, seemingly more so than it did the first time he saw it. There was just something about the way it reached up to dance in her eyes that told him there was much more to it than cute dimples or, though imperfect, attractive teeth and inviting, too-soft lips.
She was excited about their surprise hike. She had no idea where they were going or why they were going, but something told her that their journey would lead to more than just a crossroads experience.
The climb uphill was far from easy. In fact, there were a few times when she wanted to call it quits altogether or at least rest a while. Thankful he’d insisted on heading out before daybreak, she took slow breaths and trudged onward, determined to follow close at his heels.
Suddenly, he stopped and she, watching the ground as she walked, almost ran in to him. He caught her in his arms and hesitantly held her away from him.
“Are you okay? We’re almost there. Just one more hill to climb.”
She didn’t want to disappoint him or have him be overly concerned, so she chose not to mention her sore feet. “I’m fine. Really.”
He wasn’t buying it. “Well, the sun is coming up quick and this last hill is the hardest part. I don’t want it to get too hot for us. Just tell me if you want to slow down.”
By the time they topped the last hill, her leg muscles were on fire and she was sure her feet were blistered. “Here we are,” he said, concern for her furrowing his brows. She looked forward for the first time since their one stop and her breath caught at the wonder that lay before her.
“Remember the day I stopped you in town?”
How could she forget? He wrote her a ticket! She shook her head and gave him her meanest look to disguise her delighted grin. He didn’t buy that either. “You mean the day you had no compassion for a lady with no backup lights?”
“Awe. It was a labor of love, all for your own protection and you should be grateful,” he laughed. “Hey, it got me your phone number. Besides, I had to find an excuse to get a closer look. That’s what took me so long in my car. I was listening to your long list of offenses, ” he winked playfully.
Then, his face took on a somber look she’d never seen on him before. “I’d been here that morning and it dawned on me. I tried to look closely enough at your driver license, but the picture was too small.”
He wasn’t making sense. “What are you talking about? You’re talking circles.” She looked around the garden for some clue.
“Come over here.” He led her to sit in the soft grass beneath an elm on the bank of a small spring and removed her shoes. He cupped the cool water in his palms and poured it over her feet, not only out of genuine concern for her comfort, but to busy himself enough to gain the confidence to speak his heart.
“See, the first time I saw them, I wondered in which vision or dream I’d seen those eyes before. I thought they were green at first. Then, I came back here that morning, to this secret garden of mine ... ours, if you’d like it to be. I kept my eye out for you all day in town. I had to stop you. I just had to.”
He walked behind her and knelt down to put his hands on her shoulders. “Just watch.” The sun was making its slow ascent over the trees. The smoky-blue waters of the spring crept downhill in the dawn’s early light.
“When I came back to your car and so rudely shined my flashlight in your face, I knew then ...” he stated questioningly.
She nodded. “Yes?”
With each new ray of sunlight bursting its way through the leaves, golden peaks began their “good morning” dance over blue -- a reflection of the Creator’s joy brought to life.
And she smiled.
© September 11, 2006
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