I'm sitting on the top step of the front porch. It's quiet here and I need something still. I fleck peeling paint with my fingers and tip my head away from the deep blue of the sky.
Sadness. Regret. And a little bit of shame. It swallows me up. Time and words cannot be snatched back.
I've struggled, lately, with a hard attitude that wants to run loose. I wish I'd taken it to the Lord. I wish I'd placed it in His hands.
Instead I let it push out. Sharp words on tender hearts. Edges of me that pressed hard into the ones I love.
I know I'm forgiven. Christ has covered that. But there's gray in the house and it's hard to sweep away.
A consequence of sin running free.
The porch door creaks and I hear soft steps. Zay. He sits beside me and he's quiet, too. The toe of his tennis shoe prods the edges of paint stripping free.
We sit for a few minutes. He begins to talk about the river. The birds. The scab on his right knee.
Then he stands.
His arms stretch wide.
He bends his wrists, curls his fingers, and he lets his playground-brown knuckles touch.
"Do you know," he says, "when you put your arms like this, it makes a heart?"
I look at my son. His hair is too long again. His green eyes are bright behind a heavy fringe. His smile is a little crooked. And his small arms, though bent to make a lop-sided heart, have stretched straight into my soul.
I don't know if he understands what he's doing for me, if the forgiveness is his or if it's God's sweet grace, wrapped in a child's arms, in timing that could be only His.
It doesn't matter.
I pull Zay close. Those arms wrap around my neck. He climbs to my lap and we just sit. He smells of play and sun and shampoo and all things little boy.
And forgiveness is rich and sweet.
I push back a lock of hair and whisper in his ear.
"No, Zay, I didn't know."