Quiet Places

By Jane Nickerson

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Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (Prov. 3:13).

Daddy has taken me—only me—camping today! Baby Justin is at home with Mama. And Claire and Michael are home, too—they have each gone with Daddy before. I have waited and waited, and finally it’s my turn.

Daddy and I clear a space for the tent. We fling sticks into the trees, and Daddy digs up a rock with his fingers. “It was waiting to poke into my back when I lie down,” he says.

We put up the tent. It’s a two-man tent that’s just right for Daddy and me. “You could almost put it up yourself,” Daddy says.

We walk down to the river. Daddy straps on my life jacket, nice and snug. When I climb into the front of the canoe, it wobbles. I’m a little scared, but Daddy holds it still while I sit down. “I’m here,” he says. “I won’t let it tip over.” He pushes the canoe away from the shore, and we slip into the silent river. I lift my oar and flip a few drops of water back at Daddy. He flips some at me.

A breeze sends yellow leaves flying. They float down, down, down, to land lightly—golden boats on the shimmering green silk river.

We eat sandwiches on a little island where frogs sing. Daddy teaches me to skip stones on the quiet water. Hop, hop, plop.

Back at our campsite, dusk is falling. We gather wood—tiny twigs, medium-size sticks, and thick logs. Daddy starts the fire.

I watch the flames lick the sticks. Sparks crackle and fly into the black sky to meet the stars. The stars wink and blink. I blink. I think my eyes are sizzling. I move a little farther from the fire.

We eat our campfire supper, then toss our plates and cups into the flames. The cups shrivel. The plates blacken, then flare up.

We roast marshmallows and make icky, sticky, gooey, messy, yummy s’mores. My fingers stick together, so I lick them clean.

I lean against Daddy. He tells me stories of when he was little with his father. The stories are funny at first. Then quieter.

We watch the fire.

“I like to be alone with you sometimes,” I say. “When we’re at home, everyone wants to talk to you at the same time.”

Daddy nods. “I hear you even in a crowd, but sometimes we need to be in quiet places to talk and listen, to know each other even better.”

I snuggle closer.

Daddy continues, “Just like with Heavenly Father. He hears us in crowds, but I still like to pray to Him in quiet places. To talk, to listen, and to know Him better.”

“Me, too,” I say.

Illustrated by Dick Brown