The suspense is palpable as we turn each page. We sit, we three, on the couch, I in the middle, and on either side a girl, with long, silken, summer-sun-kissed hair. Their skin is the colour of the brown eggs in the grocery store; the kind you pay extra for; even though the insides are the same as the white eggs; but I digress.
Both have eyes the colour of chestnuts and Victoria has a delicate sprinkle of freckles over the bridge of her nose that looks as if an angel flicked a paint brush laden with burnt sienna, as a finishing touch when God was making her.
I pause in my reading of the book, as I often do, to ask a question. "What do you like best--movies or books?"
Without hesitation, with eyes wide and bright, they shout out, "Books!"
"Why books?" I ask.
Tiffany-Amber said, "Because movies are so...predictable."
And Victoria added, "Yes, and books allow you so see so many more pictures in your mind."
Oh, I know. I know exactly what they mean. We have been enthralled with the book we've been reading. It is a book that makes your heart ache and almost break--and all over the adventures of an arrogant china rabbit that is being softened through suffering.
Tonight we are nearing the end of the book and we share the sweet sadness known to all who love a good book and hate to see it end. I pause, and go back and reread a passage, in which Edward the rabbit, who had been so dreadfully hurt that he refused to acknowledge his heart anymore, feels it fluttering to life:
* Edward's heart stirred. He thought, for the first time in a long time, of the house on Egypt Street and of Abilene winding his watch and then bending toward him and placing it on his left leg, saying: I will come home to you.
No, no, he told himself. Don't believe it. Don't let yourself believe it.
But it was too late.
"Some one will come for you."
The china rabbit's heart had begun, again, to open.
And I say to the girls that think that the story of Edward is a story within a story and that the story is our story, the story of lives lived and finding the courage to love and be loved. And I tell them how sometimes a heart will close itself up in self protection but how that is a sad thing and to be avoided at all costs in favour of bravery.
Two sets of eyes are wide open. Two pairs of ears listening carefully. And I treasure this moment, in which I hope two small hearts are growing in understanding, in the ways of life and of God, with the help of Edward and a grandmother who loves them.
* The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate diCamillo
Acts 14:22 (New Living Translation)
22 where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.