The early morning fire burns hot and low against the March dampness. The grubby black stove radiates its assurance. The wind rustles against the walls, the first drops patter window and roof. The fern on the table begs for water, and I give it mercy. Tomorrow it will need it again. The plants on the sink window sill bring a smile to my eye, the work of my wife in all their green profusion.
The rain comes stronger on the drive to work, the drops splatter and run across the windshield. Geese traverse the river in flight, two pairs as I cross the rusting bridge. They slid low, searching for home. From the hill I see a flock drawing a ragged black line. They seem to sing of spring, the hill below lifting ragged hands to clap with the song.
My oldest loves his toy guitar. He was being cranky and was required to spend some time in his crib but after a good cry and then a few songs and a back rub he agrees to behave better. He takes his guitar and his new Richard Scarry book downstairs, clutching them tight as he rides in my arms. Then he grins though his teary eyes while I sing various nursery songs and his plays with good imitation and great gusto on his guitar. Life is better. We go outside.
The evening darkens, the rain continues fitfully. I rake the yard with my boy, the wetness soaking jackets and pants. He helps carry the bucket, in his hand and mine, and he wants to dump it. Then we walk back and he carries the bucket in one hand and holds mine in the other. While I rake more he holds up his dirty hands to the sky waiting for the rain to wash them clean.
At bedtime I read him a chapter from the Bible and he doesn’t really pay attention. There are no pictures and the drama rarely has words to make stories he understands. But he thought the name “Jesse” was worth of vigorously repeating until I acknowledge that he had indeed said the name very well. After the reading finished he tried to earnestly pay attention as I talked to him about the chapter and how Saul’s disobedience was punished by God, and how when God punished Saul it made Saul very sad and David came and played music for him and he wasn’t so sad anymore. This he understood.
The earnest way he looks at me sometimes in these moments touches me deeply. There is so much he cannot even now begin to understand, and often he slips into boredom and inattention. But in moments when I address him he understands it is important to me and that is so very important to him. In snatching moments he musters himself to pay attention as best he can, with all his might focusing wide eyes at Daddy. Still he grasps so little for all his trying, and yet he does grasp disobedience. He has learned something important, and for tonight that is enough.