All of us this time. We left the house early, while dew still hung in the air, and the sun was still a promise to the Sunday ahead.
Four years ago, shortly after we moved into this neighborhood, Mike was alone at dusk when he crossed the wooded ridge that buffers the residents from the main thoroughfare. There are railroad tracks at the crest of the ridge, and it was there that Mike first saw it: a deer in the clearing that looked up and stared straight back at him.
Since that night four years ago, we've probably crossed those tracks a thousand times or two in our comings and goings. If one of the kids, or all of the kids, or even just me is with him when he stops at the tracks to look both ways before crossing, Mike says "Look for deer, kids."
At first they looked in earnest. After a month of disappointments, there was frustration. At about the five month mark, they began arguing with their Dad about there not being deer in the woods - and all their various reasons why not. But Mike was quietly relentless, insisting, even if dryly, that we keep a eye out for deer.
It became funny. By then, one of the kids would imitate him, saying it just like he does if they could beat him to the punch. And Dad began to be mocked. But he didn't care, or argue back, or defend his long-ago sighting. Undeterred, he just kept on saying, "Check for deer, guys."
Then, this morning, it happened. We were running late, talking about the milk that was spilled in our haste to get out the door, still making sure we all had on seat belts.
Mike put on the brakes as soon as he crossed over the tracks, put it in reverse, and said, "Did you see it? Deer!"
Adrian said, "Come on, Dad, I'm late!"
Mike stopped the truck right on the tracks, and there she was. She was simply there after all those time of not there. All six of us had a staring contest. She didn't move a muscle, stood stark still, peaceful, but alert. It lasted only a minute, and I suppose she won since we were the first to speed off. It did set us back in our lateness to church, but oh, was it worth it.
The kids were speechless. Such satisfaction that seeing brings after such long-awaited promise. It's not that they had doubted that Dad had seen a deer, it was just the believing that they would never would.
But this is how I want to always see those tracks in my mind's eye. So I can practice seeing things unseen. And hopefully in the future cut down on the cycle of disappointment, frustration, rationalizing, and scoffing before I see what God knew was there all along.
blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.~John 20:29