The sun shone bright again after four days of torrential downpours. Phoebe’s iced tea tasted somehow sweeter in the fancy blue glass from her wedding ten years earlier.
Pausing mid-sip, she set her drink on the souvenir coaster from Niagara Falls. Activity out front caught her eye and she peered through the screened window.
She stretched across the ladder back chair next to her until she recognized her neighbor’s son. “What is Billy up to?” She asked the empty kitchen.
A light breeze rustled the petunias in the window box. The boy’s awkward crouch rolled into a crawl like a detective searching for clues without a magnifying glass. A six-year-old hand reached out and swept across the old sidewalk. The intensity on Billy’s face gave way to a brief smile.
Phoebe’s flip flops squeaked across the beige ceramic tiles. Her lips tightened into a straight line as the screen door creaked open. Fresh pine from the young sapling wafted across the slate pathway to the street. “Maybe I can catch him in the act.”
The knees of his jeans scraped against the concrete as the boy pivoted away from her. Once again his hand reached out to sweep at something on the sidewalk. Toes damp from the still-wet grass, eyebrows furrowed, she asked, “What in heaven’s name are you doing?”
He twisted around and tipped his head toward her voice. “Hi, Mrs. Clarke.” The look in his eyes slid from surprise to determination. “I’m taking care of my tiny friends.” He returned to his task.
“Tiny friends? What do you mean?” Her eyes picked up some random movement around her feet.
“Ants. Don’t you see them?” The boy made circles with his hand. “Daddy told me the rain would probably flood the tunnels of a lot of animals so I came out to check.” He sat back on his heels, eyes intent on his goal. “It made me sad when I found the ants wandering around like they were lost. I was afraid they might fall into those big cracks and not be able to get out.”
The mail lady tooted her horn and waved. Phoebe’s hand went up in response. Billy started to raise his hand then lowered it to brush across the broken concrete again.
“But what are you doing?” She bent forward and her mood softened.
“Whenever I see an ant getting too close to a crack, I guide it away to a safer place.” He repeated the effort. “Well, not all the time. Only when it looks like it might be too hard for the ant to get out by itself. You know, they can’t see the cracks while they’re running around, but I can see them fine from up here.”
“There are a lot of ants.” Phoebe adjusted her glasses as she straightened up. “And it’s going to be a while before the ground is dry again. Are you planning to stay out here until all these ants are safe at home again?”
“Oh no. I go to afternoon kindergarten.” The smile he turned upward lit her heart. “When I’m not here God takes care of them. He does a much better job anyway. I’m just practicing being His hands for a while.”
Tears sprung into Phoebe’s eyes as her mind replayed events. The close call with a dump truck, the schedule conflict that kept her from a tense meeting, the closed door she’d wanted to walk through . . . that gossipy friend she somehow no longer had time for . . .
She tousled the blond head. “I’m proud of you for doing your part.” The lump in her throat almost blocked her words. “Keep up the good work.”
Images of herself scurrying around on a crevice-filled walkway overtook her as she stumbled back to the house. Dropping onto the rust-colored cushion, head lowered, her sobs carried prayers of gratitude and love to the One who held her in the palm of His hand.
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10 NIV1984
Use three words to describe a ‘sidewalk crack’ God saved you from. Comments
May the LORD bless you and grant you a very Merry Christmas.