They arrived at a large house several blocks from where Kate lived. Cars were parked up and down the street. Kevin and his family got out of the van and headed inside. Kevin opened the door for her, helped her down, and walked her inside.
Downstairs in the family room was a wooden table with a beautiful white cloth covering it and sitting on top of the cloth was a golden stand with a sun-shaped object on top that had golden rays radiating from it. In the center of the sun was a plain beige circular object with a cross inscribed in it. There were small benches with padded areas for kneeling in the room, and Kate took a seat beside Kevin as he and his family slipped into one of the benches.
Nobody spoke, just as Kevin had said, and nobody looked at her or asked anything of her. Everyone sat or knelt in silence. She wondered what it was that they were doing here, and what the purpose of everything was. She looked over at Kevin to see if she could gain some clue from him, but his eyes were focused on the object sitting atop the table.
Bored, she looked at it, too. She noticed the intricate designs of angels carved into the rays and lining the sides. She thought it was truly a very beautiful sculpture and wondered what it had to do with her, or with Kevin, or with proving the existence of God. She let her mind wander over the events of the last week, from the moment she’d received the envelope to the events that led up to her sitting in this chair.
She realized, very suddenly, that if not for Bones’ death, she wouldn’t be sitting in this chair. In fact, she wouldn’t have discovered that Kevin had wanted to get to know her better or was interested in her at all. As awful and heartbreaking as it had been to lose Bones, Kevin was right. Something good had come out of it. Something very good.
For the first time in her life, she began to wonder if maybe there really was a God. She wondered if maybe, just maybe, Kevin was right and everything that had happened to her had brought her right here to this moment. It was an incredible thought. She knew that if her father hadn’t moved them to Elko, she never would have met Kevin. If her father hadn’t died, she and Bones would not have grown so close, and if not for her uncontrollable grief over Bones, she and Kevin might never have talked at all. The thought was too troubling for her to explore. She didn’t want to think that her Dad’s death was part of getting her here. She pushed it away.
The room that she was in was beautifully decorated with many pictures hanging on the walls. She studied these to give her mind a place to focus. There was a large picture of an older man with a wooden staff that had lilies sprouting from it in one hand and his other hand on the shoulder of a woman in a veil carrying an infant. Their eyes looked happy, and the child’s hand was reaching out toward her as if beckoning her to come closer. Next to that, there was a picture of two women who were both clearly pregnant standing together and a dove was over the head of one while the other had a halo around her head. One of the pregnant women looked like she was old enough to be the grandmother of the younger woman. Both women looked beyond happy.
The next picture was one of a man and a woman bringing a little baby to an old man. In the background was a church of some kind. The old man looked happy, and the young woman holding the baby looked somewhat sad. Beside that, there was another picture. This one of a young boy of 12 or so sitting in the middle of a group of older men. The boy had a halo and a dove over his head. There was a picture of a man standing in a river while another man poured water from a seashell over his head. A dove flew overhead both men, and both had halos. She made a mental note to ask Kevin about these pictures after they were finished. She supposed that these pictures had something to do with Jesus.
She shifted slightly in her seat, wondering how much longer they would be here. She was not used to all the silence, but nobody else seemed interested in talking. The words Kevin had said to her came to mind, something about sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening. “Well,” she thought, “I’m listening if you’re ready to talk!”
She wasn’t surprised when she didn’t hear anything. She wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting, or hoping. If He did exist, He’d never bothered speaking to her before. She couldn’t imagine why she would expect Him to speak to her now. Some part of her felt disappointed.
Words she’d heard once before came to mind. “Ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you, seek and you shall find.” She was seeking, but she wasn’t finding. She was asking, but nothing was being given to her. It seemed pretty clear to her that no matter how pretty the statue on the table might be, no matter how many pictures they might have, there was no God and Jesus wasn’t here.
Yet she couldn’t get past the fact that Kevin seemed confident that he was here, that there was something more here than just silence and a pretty figurine and a bunch of paintings. Kevin wasn’t stupid. She’d spent too much time with him to write him off that way. He was very smart and he wasn’t shallow or prone to other superstitions. So, why, then did Kevin believe this one? Was it just that his family had him convinced, or was there something more? That he did believe was enough to tell her there was something here, something worth paying attention to, even if it wasn’t what he thought it was.
She frowned at that. Realistically, Father hadn’t seemed stupid either. Crazy, maybe, but not stupid. Was there really an enemy to fight? Was there really a darkness that was trying to catch hold of her and anyone else they could grab hold of? She still had yet to look at the evidence Kevin had said was on the thumb drive. She wondered if it was this kind of evidence, this kind of stuff, that he wanted her to see. If so, it wasn’t going to be very convincing.
She thought about what Kevin had told her, about the government shutting down the churches that refused to fall in line. She wondered if that was really true. If it was true, she wanted to know why nobody was talking about it. She wanted to know why everybody had allowed it to happen. Suddenly, she felt a strong urge to go and look up the information on that thumb drive.
She looked over at Kevin again, and he smiled at her this time. He looked so peaceful, so happy. She wondered if she could ever feel that way again. She thought the closest she’d come was when her father was still alive. It would be nice to be so relaxed and so at peace with the world for a change. She hadn’t known Kevin for very long, but truthfully he always seemed fairly peaceful, even when she was upset with him. He never seemed to get too upset over anything she said, and she knew she wouldn’t have reacted that same way. She wondered what it was that kept him so calm.
Kate leaned her head back and closed her eyes. It was warm in this place and so calm. She felt her body relax and the tension from the day start to melt away. She startled as she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and looked up to find Kevin standing there. She wondered how he had gotten to the other side of her, and that’s when she noticed that his family was standing at the back near the stairs. She must have dosed off.
As they piled back into the van, Kate noticed that she felt more relaxed than she had in a long time. She wasn’t sure what it was about that place, but she decided then and there that she liked it. She hoped Kevin would invite her back next week. Maybe it was just the silence, maybe it was having a time when there were absolutely no expectations placed on her life, but she definitely felt different than when she’d walked in the front door.
“Is that where you guys have your church now?” Kate asked.
“Kind of. Now that the parish doesn’t really have a church anymore, we take turns hosting things like that. Tonight it was the Johnson’s turn to host,” he answered.
“That’s cool, I guess. So are you guys taking a turn?” she asked.
“Eventually. What did you think, Kate?” Kevin asked, eager to hear her response.
“As far as proof goes, it didn’t prove anything to me. I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t see anything, and I didn’t feel anything,” she said, leaving out the part about the feeling of peace that was with her even now, “but I guess I liked it. You said you do this every week?”
“Yes, every week. You want to come next week?” he asked.
Kate had been hoping he would ask, and tried not to sound too eager, “Yeah, I’d like that.”
Kevin smiled and took her hand. “I’m glad you came. You keep coming with me, and you’ll find the answers eventually”
Kate didn’t say anything, but she doubted it. If God had wanted to give her answers he’d had his chance tonight and hadn’t done it. God didn’t seem to want to have much to do with her. Still, she liked the peaceful feeling and the quiet that gave her time to think, time she didn’t usually have.
They pulled up in front of Kate’s house, and Kevin got out to walk her to the door. “See you tomorrow morning?” he asked.
“Sounds good,” Kate replied, smiling. She watched as he left and then went inside where her mom was waiting, watching like a hawk.
“So, how did things go?” her mom probed.
“Good,” Kate said, not sure what she should tell her mother.
“Well, what did you do?”
“Nothing, really. He and his family went to this friend’s house and they just spent some time being quiet and thinking and stuff,” Kate answered.
“Being quiet? Doesn’t sound like much fun,” her mom said, puzzled.
“No, but I did come away feeling a lot more relaxed than I have in a long time. I think if you don’t mind I’d like to go back again next week,” Kate said. She was nervous about her mother asking too many questions that she wasn’t ready to answer.
“That’s fine, I guess,” her mom said.
“Thanks, Mom,” Kate said, giving her mother a smile and a hug before heading upstairs to grab the thumb drive out of her top drawer. If there were answers to be had and proof to be seen, this was it. This was the time for those questions to finally be answered.
She took the thumb drive carefully out of the drawer and headed back downstairs toward the basement. Her mom looked a little puzzled, so she just said, “Research project.” Her mom’s eyes lit with understanding and she nodded. Once down in the basement, Kate turned on the computer, slipped the thumb drive into the usb port, and waited for the computer to finish loading. Kibbles hopped into her lap as she sat there staring at the screen.
“Hey, Kibbles,” she said, petting the fluffly orange tomcat. “Where’s Bits?” she asked him, looking around for the seal point Himalayan she had received for her 10th birthday. Kibbles seemed content to curl up in her lap and purr.
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