Trying to hold my heart and stomach in place where they belong, I take the long walk from the dining room to the stairwell. "Honey?"
My hand grips the stair rail, and I lean hard against the wall. "I waited too late to get the tickets. They're all sold out. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me."
"It's okay, Mom." That's all. She seemed genuine in her forgiveness. There's nothing more I can say or do. If I could have an outer body experience and get behind myself, I'd kick myself. My hands drop to my sides in the quiet, and I walk away. How could I have been so ...? She'd been asking for weeks about going to see her friend in the Fiddler on the Roof play, a high school play. She wanted to go for support. And she'd been in the same play a few years back. And I'd let her down.
I pull out a chair and sit down at the dining room table. Footsteps speed down the stairs. The garage door opens. "I'm going walking." Her voice ... something unpleasant in her voice.
"I thought you forgave me," I say. I'm sensing other feelings have begun to emerge. She'd had a few moments to think. The door shuts. I thought you forgave me.
I wait all I can. I walk out the door and see no sign of her. She's on the trail, I figure. The sheep aren't in the pen, so she must have let them out. I cut through the middle of the back property. The fabric of her white capris summons me through the forest of trees, the greenery. She's sitting on the swing.
I feel like a fallen tree, humbled to my knee.
The two sheep stand there, staring at me, accusing me, almost daring my approach. Like she'd poured out her very soul, her feelings, to the sheep ... and now, everyone knows.
Her eyes are red-rimmed and swollen.
My stomach and heart plunge. I wipe off a spot on the swing and sit down. "I'm really sorry. I feel awful. I didn't want to go to the play without dad, and once I found out he was going with us, there were so many seats still available ... I got busy with work. And I just can't believe they sold out so fast. I can't believe I did that." I twist my hands. "Maybe it's dad's fault." We both laugh.
"It's really okay, Mom." She smiles at me. We talk it through. "Think we could do pizza and a movie tonight? Something fun?"
We head back through the trail, toward the barn. "Look, Mom. This is a mesquite tree. We had these in San Angelo." She points across the path. "And another one."
"It sure is." I can't believe it. I'd never noticed them before. Two mesquite trees amongst all the oak and cedar. "We had these in Wichita Falls, too."
"Look at the long thorns," she says in cautious admiration. She feels over the leaves on top, the groups of tiny leaves covering the thorns all the way down the limb. "But the leaves are so soft. Like roses, something so soft and pretty needs protecting." One sheep stands tall, trying to eat the leaves, and fearful that she'll poke out her eye, we manage to maneuver her front legs back to the ground. "Do you think this is like Jesus' crown of thorns?"
"It probably is." I wind the long limb into a circle. "It's beautiful though, isn't it?" We stand there, imaging what it must have felt like to have those long thorns pierce through our foreheads, one by one, all the way around. Or maybe all at once. Gratitude fills my heart for the punishment He took for me.
"Be careful, Mom. Don't let that pop back on you."
"I will." I release it gently, moving back away and examining the events more closely.
We begin our journey toward the house, sheep following. Peace links our hands together, our hearts together. The capacity of love--nailed to a tree, to be given away, free. A love so soft and pretty, it needs protecting. And I realize that she could have driven the thorns into my head, but she placed the soft side on me instead.
Have you had a moment of forgiveness that you can share about?