They sat on the pier like they had done the last time. At first they were silent, drinking in the beauty that surrounded them. The reflection of the sun danced on the blue water of the lake. Birds sang to each other, and a cool soft breeze wafted past them from time to time.
Eventually she became aware of the silence between them. She wondered if he was waiting for her to speak first. Maybe he was getting bored, but sneaking a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye, she saw that he was looking around and seemed to be enjoying the peace as much as she was. She also saw something else in his face. Something like… satisfaction? As if he was responsible for the beauty himself? No, that couldn’t be right. She must be seeing things. Nobody could create a place like this. Discover it? Yes. Nurture and care for it? Yes. But create it? No. A sly thought sneaked its way into her mind: maybe he thinks he’s God.
As if reading her thoughts, he said quietly, “God’s creation is amazing, wouldn’t you say?’
She sighed with relief. At least he’s not claiming to be God. That would be weird. Maybe even dangerous. She’d heard too many stories of the evil done by men with a god-complex. And she had no intention of becoming a victim of a cult – enslaved and intimidated into obedience.
“Something wrong?” he asked, looking at her with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Um, no. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, that.” She didn’t want to reveal her stupid suspicion so she tried to change the subject. “I love it here,” she said. “It’s heaven!”
“No, but close,” he chuckled. “Did you say you had some questions?”
“Yes, I do. Lots of them, actually.”
He laughed. “Most people do when they discover this place.”
“What exactly is this place?”
“Well, for me, it’s home. This is where my father and I live.”
“But, it doesn’t make sense. How can this place be here? We’re in a city. There’s not enough room in anyone’s yard to have all of this in it.”
“That’s true for houses and apartment buildings that were built after the city got big. But this place.” he motioned around him with his arm, “was here before the city grew. You could say the city grew around us.”
“That makes sense. But what still doesn’t make sense is how your home is so much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside.”
“It’s kind of like an illusion. You know, tricks that fool the eyes. Illusions show that you can’t always believe your eyes.”
She nodded. She still didn’t understand the physics involved but she wanted more time to think about it before asking further questions.
“So, if this house, this land, was here before the city grew, then you must have grown up here.”
“It seems I’ve always been here, that’s true.
“And was your dad born here too?”
“No, he wasn’t.”
“When did he get here, then?’
“He’s been here so long, you could say he’s been here forever!” he laughed.
This is getting me nowhere, she thought. She changed the subject.
“Your dad is a pastor. That means he must know a lot about God. And you, being his son, must know a lot about God, too. Right?
“You could say that.”
“Does God really exist or is He just something someone dreamed up to comfort people?”
“Oh, God’s real, all right. No doubt about that.”
“Well, if God is real, why do so many people act like He’s not?”
“Many people don’t know that He exists.”
“I mean, people who go to church. People who say they are Christians. Why do they act like God is not real?”
“That’s a good questions, I…”
“How’s it going out here?” called a voice as footsteps vibrated on the pier.
Jude and Bella both turned to see Pastor Toby waving as he walked towards them.
“Wonderful,” she answered.
“We’ve been enjoying the peace of this place,” Jude said. “And Bella has some pretty deep questions.”
“Awesome! I love answering questions. But first we have a date with a fresh hot-out-of-the-oven peach cobbler! And if you know anything about peach cobbler, it’s best eaten warm!”
“Mmm… sounds delicious!” Jude said as he stood up. He held out his hand to help Bella stand. “My mouth is already watering!”
Bella tried to hide her disappointment. As good as the cobbler sounded, she would have preferred to hear Jude’s answer to her question. But she didn’t want to hurt Pastor Toby’s feelings, so she smiled and headed back to the church with them. Maybe after eating some of the cobbler, they could get back to her question. She hadn’t realized until she asked it how much she needed to have her question answered. All she knew was that the growing pressure of not knowing was driving her nuts.