It's Spring Break.
She and her sister always stop by, though I never remember to anticipate the visit.
This week it was just her, the oldest. Her dad waiting in the van while she came to say hello. I don't know why. Never have figured it out.
I remember when we moved in here, six years ago exactly, and she, twelve, her sister, eleven, walked by. We said "hi." It became a daily ritual. Walking to school, we'd wave through the window or outside we'd say "hi." Walking back from school, same thing. Walking to the park with their friends, same thing. Walking home from the park, same thing. Lots and lots of "Hi's", smiles, waves.
The relationship progressed, sometimes we'd go to the park with them or they'd visit in our yard. I'd buy a magazine subscription, cookie dough from them for their school fundraisers. In the summer they'd ask for some work so they could make a little cash for the Quick Mart. They'd pull weeds in the sun for hours.
One day they came by to say they were moving. I was sad. A large, transitory family with some promise lingering under the struggles. What would become of them? Often I prayed for them.
Yet for the last three years they've stopped by during Spring Break to say hello. This time she told me she turned eighteen this winter. Graduating this summer. Wants to be a children's doctor. Moved to Florida with her family this year but they didn't like it there so now they're back.
As she's talking, us standing out on the lilac path, my children barefoot running about, a thought crosses my mind. "Talk to her about God."
How? I don't know where to start? Me, who's just been reading of the death of Jesus.
How when He was beaten and flogged, He followed His own advice and turned the other cheek. How when he was scourged and mocked, He practiced what He preached and did not resist the evil. How when He was spit upon and struck on the head, He did not judge or condemn. How when they jeeringly bowed before Him in homage, He forgave.
Can I risk telling an eighteen year-old about God? Right then she begins telling me that in Florida school was very different. She learned about religion and even read parts of the Bible in class.
I ask her what she read, what she thought of it. She says she'd like to learn more, like to go to church. Yes, yes, church is good, but Jesus, I say, He's the answer to life.
(How can I not say it? If I truly believe Jesus has the power to give her life forever, it would be cruel not to share.....)
She can't really remember where in the Bible she read at school. I tell her she might like John. She looks at me blankly.
"Do you have a Bible?" She says no.
"Oh, well we have lots of Bibles. Would you like one?"
She smiles and nods yes so I run to the basement. Skim over the books in the storage room. There's got to be some here. King James might be a bit challenging. I keep looking. Spanish/English not quite right. I see a Bible box and open it up. The box holds my old New King James I'd forgotten all about.
Inside the Bible is a note from my mom. To Dayna in 1996. A gift for my summer in Haiti. It's warped but it's good. Lots of notes I've written. I don't have time to get nostalgic and read them. I close it up and head back outside.
It's been sitting there six years. Waiting to be read. Yes, it's a memorable Bible, Someday my children might like looking at all the notes. But I think my mom would agree, it's better to share it now. To give it to a soul in search of Him.
I show her the Table of Contents and tell her about the special Bible. Her Dad beckons for her. The lilacs are starting to bud, even some purple poking through.
I go inside and throw myself down in my bedroom. Pray thanks for the opportunity to give Truth in the Word. Plead that it will not be sent out without accomplishing its' purpose.
A day later my neighbor comes by. He saw her leave with the Bible. Tells me that was a great thing I did. (Me? No. Only what I should have done long, long ago.) He says that's the best book she'll ever read. Then grins and says, "though to tell the truth it's been a long time since I have." I smile soft and say, "maybe you could read John, too..."