I think it was the crinkling of the paper that changed everything. Simi slowly turned her head and fixated on the sparkly blue candy wrapper. Her curiosity was piqued.
The squinting eyes told me she was trying to sort out her options. The little creases alongside her nose, and the eyebrows reaching for each other, told me that the sweet was drawing clear interest.
But my temptations didn’t last. The little urchin snuggled back into the security of the shelter she knew.
I searched the surroundings for something else. A blue jay feather nestled discreetly at the feet of a bed of white calla lilies. It had possibilities. A harsh jaaaay-jaaay, followed by a series of clicking sounds, let me know that the feather’s former owner was nearby. And alarmed.
The fragrance of the lilies mingled with a faint scent of jasmine. A strange combination. The patch of peace roses rising proudly to my right didn’t stand a chance to share their aroma with my searching nasal passages.
In the green lawn to my left, I noticed a single yellow invader rising defiantly. The dandelion would have to be picked later. There were more pressing concerns at the moment.
As I crouched, frozen like a statue, I thought I heard the call of a red-shouldered hawk, then realized it was just the Jay mimicking. A bell-like tool-ool, tool-ool sounded, and was answered by a squeaky wheedelee, wheedelee. Other jays were in the area responding.
I looked up into the branches of the hemlock, but only saw a sparrow eyeing down a grey tabby creeping stealthfully toward the nearby birch.A pair of beady eyed crows sat on a telephone line, also eyeing the hunter.
The feline seemed focused on the yellow topped Townsend Warbler, and the Black-capped Chickadee, that were pecking at the suet on the birdfeeder. A red-shafted Northern Flicker darted in to hang, upside down, from the tube feeder, as he grabbed a beak full of sunflower seeds.
The bumbling, blackened thunderheads above released a distant clap of thunder. The winged folk took flight, and the disappointed hunter was left looking skyward.
A single splotch of wet splatted directly onto my right eyeglass lens. I slowly lowered my head and removed the glasses to soak up the moisture with the hem of my red polo shirt. As I wiped the glass firmly, I noticed the increasing ripple and disturbances on the surface of the gold fish pond. Still I stayed.
The earpiece to my iPod began to sound off an old Sunday School song. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” I began to hum along, and bask in the peace of that secure old truth.
When I looked back in her direction, Simi seemed to be eying me curiously. Her clear blue eyes were filled with light. The slightest of smiles creased the corner of her lips. I continued to hum and then actually put words to the song. “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”
The little bobblehead of my two year old grand-daughter slowly raised up off the shoulder of her mother. Her hand unfolded from its place, under her chin, and stretched out toward my lips.
My daughter Grace lived up to her name, and took a step toward me. For the first time in a year, she spoke. “Dad, she likes you.”
The tears in my eyes didn’t have to be forced. I had no words to respond. Simi brushed her fingers against my lips and a faint electric current seemed to flow from her.
Grace continued. “Dad, you know when I left that I told you ‘nothing would ever convince me there was a God’ after what happened.”
I nodded and looked into her desperate eyes.
“Dad, you know I said that you’d never see me again.”
I nodded again. I looked into her eyes and tried to see into her soul.
“Dad. When Simi was born, something changed. I know you used to sit me in this garden and tell me to look at all the flowers and trees and birds and everything else. I know you told me not to just let my university teachers play with what I knew in my heart to be true.”
Simi gripped my lip and pulled herself toward me. I reached out and Grace stepped into my hug. “Welcome home,” I said.
“God is here,” she said.
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