"So what has God been teaching you lately, Jane?" Starbucks, a cacophony around us, I toss out questions. Today Janie turns eight. I study her face.
With a green straw, she sculpts a bluff of whip cream on a pink Italian soda. She cocks her head, peers up and to the right, past me, past the black sunshade on the floor-to-ceiling windows. She blinks, smiles just only at the corner of her mouth. "To be kind," she finally says, "to others, when they are in the wrong." She licks whip cream off the end of her straw.
"Yes," I say and nod. I sip my creamy black americano, "yes."
"And when I am in the wrong," she wrinkles her forehead, leans back in her chair, "to not just make it look like the other person is wrong. You actually have to confess." She jabs her straw through the drift of cream and quaffs raspberry soda.
I let the "kind" comment settle in around me. You actually have to confess. Confess, yes this is true. Confession leads to intimacy. I turn this over and over as we volley conversation between soda and coffee, lemon bread and cream cheese danish -- confession leads to intimacy, like now, here, at Starbucks.
Then it's Sunday and we're all a-skitter to church, all six of us jabbed and lobbed into the suburban, Craig already off early before us. I wheel 'round the corner onto a four-lane oneway street.
"Jack," Lulie chimes from the back-back seat, "God can run faster than you."
"God," Jack retorts, "can run faster than anyone."
"Or, or, OR," Lulie tolls, pealing over Jack before he can finish, "God can make YOU run as fast as HIM."
"Yeah. God's the only magic man in the world," Jack replies.
Magic man. Confession, magic. And so it is, I watch for signs of confession and magic, of God. I tremble at how many times we see Him.
3331. "Mom look! Mom, LOOK," Myra holds up an unpopped popcorn kernel, "a roly-poly."
3332. "Hi, sweetie," I whisper in Myra's ear. And "Hi, sweetie," she whispers back.
3333. "Mom, I am so annoying at that rabbit," Lucy tells me before we catch him. "Aren't you so annoying at that rabbit?"
3334. Jane scrubs the kitchen sink and waits to see if I will notice.
3335. The kids fill our wading pool and then let it warm in the sun all morning. "This is about how warm Grammie's pool was but five times warmer," Janie gushes.
3336. We scamper down to the neighborhood pool with cousins and laugh and splash and visit the night away.
3337. Jane turns eight.
3338. Family from both sides gathers for a big birthday barbecue. We celebrate these past eight years with Jane, the treasure that she is, and the huge heritage of a good, good family.
3339. Lucy helps me pick out an outfit for the day then comments, "Do you think your tummy's getting back to normal even though it's still sort of big?"
3340. We finally catch the rabbit in our trap. Craig releases him down by the golf course.
3341. I roast eight pounds of carrots on the grill.
3342. Dear friends invite us for a barbecue. We eat a whole mountain of chicken drumsticks seasoned and turned to golden perfection and visit long into the night.
3343. Jane receives a winter nightgown, red plaid socked away in the closest for the dead of winter.
3344. Jack and Jane train for the SpoKenya Run.
3345. Jane makes the cut and we run the race together. We practice pacing and endurance, grow our muscle memory of what pacing and endurance feel like.
3346. Jack and the rest of the crew cheer big at the finish line. Then we all eat drippy ice cream cones together.
3347. Toasted pecans, cooled, two dark chocolate chips piggybacked on top.
3348. We experience the obvious collaboration between leftover cheesecake and toasted pecans.
3349. We share lunch with friends at our favorite burrito place.
3350. Jane comments after church, "It's really obvious who did the family homework when kids try to answer questions during class."
3351. I enjoy more conversation and advice from my mom, the fun of talking, the continual exchange of ideas, the invaluable: years of experience ahead of me.
3352. Baby Joe grows pudgier each day. He gives me long I-love-you blinks when we gaze at each other.