It was another beautiful day and was out for a walk. She wished she could stay out there in the sunshine all day long. However, she had to return home and was pleasantly surprised to find Father Desjardins there. He was visiting her grandmother. They were in the living-room having tea.
He rose to his feet when she entered. “Good afternoon, Ede.”
“Good afternoon, Father Desjardins.”
“Father Desjardins was just about to tell me about Xenops and xerus.”
Ede wrinkled her brow. “Who are they?” she asked.
Father Desjardins smiled. “They aren’t people. Xenops is a group of small birds found in Central and South America and the xerus is an African ground squirrel with spiny fur, very short ears, and a long tail.”
“Oh. Have you seen either of them in person?”
“I’ve seen them them both. I saw the Xenops when I was in Mexico a couple of years ago. And when I was visiting a friend in Botswana.”
“Have you visited other places beside South America and Africa, Father?” Ede asked.
“Yes. I’ve been to China and India before coming here.”
“It must be nice to see other countries and to experience other cultures,” Ede said.
“It is,” he said, his gaze lingering on her before he turned to look at her grandmother who asked him if he would like another cup of tea. “No, thank you, Mrs. Amadou.”
“Well, I think I will go and take a nap,” she said, rising slowly to her feet.
Ede was at her side in a flash. “Let me help you to your room, Grandma,” she said.
“Thank you, Dear. Goodbye, Father Desjardins. Thank you for stopping by. I had a very pleasant afternoon.”
“So did I, Mrs. Amadou. Goodbye.” He went and stood by the window, looking out.
Ede soon joined him. “Why don’t we go into the garden?” she suggested.
She preceded him and they sat at the picnic table facing each other. “I’ve never heard of xenops and xerus before,” she said. “There’s a lot I don’t know.”
“There’s a lot I don’t know either but that’s the wonderful thing about life. There’s always something new and wonderful to discover.”
“That’s true. I felt that way when I started reading the Bible. It’s filled with wonderful stories and lessons for us to learn from.”
“Yes, it is. And perhaps, that’s why it’s the best-selling book of all time.”
“Father, if you were to describe the Bible in two words, what would they be?”
He thought about it for a moment and then, replied, “Unique and universal. Unique because it’s God’s Holy Word and universal because it’s available to everyone in their own language.”
“And it’s unique because it has the power to transform lives too.”
“Yes, it does. It transformed the life of John Newton who was an enslaver. It was he who composed the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace. Slavery wasn’t of God but of man. I’m thankful that it was abolished.”
“Me too. Had I been born in those days, I would have been sold into slavery.”
“And had I been born in those days, I would have sought to free you either as an abolitionist or a priest.”
“Well, I’m thankful that neither or us was born during those times. Nor during the times of segregation in the United States nor during Apartheid in South Africa.”
“If we had been, we wouldn’t have been able to spend time together like this.”
“Then, I’m thankful that we live in a time when we are free to associate with whomever we please. In God’s Kingdom, there wouldn’t be any segregation or Apartheid. It will be like the United Nations where you see all the different flags flying side by side. The kingdom of God will be multicultural, multiracial and multilingual.”
“Yes, what a wonderful thing that would be. Father, in the Bible, there is the kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Are they the same thing or are they different?”
“They are two different terms but they mean the same thing. Matthew uses the term “Kingdom of Heaven” whereas Mark and Luke use the term “Kingdom of God” in their writings when referring to the same parable. The Kingdom of Heaven is a Kingdom which exists within and among God’s people. The kingdom of God is a true and actual kingdom of heaven—its foundation is in heaven. The Kingdom of God resides in the heart of man and it is present in and through the Church.”
“Thanks for explaining the terms to me, Father. It’s my hope and prayer that many of us will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“It is my hope and prayer too.”
“Father Desjardins, I’m happy that out of all the places you could have chosen to pastor, you chose here.”
“I’m happy I chose here to, Ede. I’ve been blessed to have met so many wonderful people. You, in particular.”
She smiled. “I enjoy our talks,” she said.
They talked for a while longer and then it was time for him to leave. He stood up. “Thank you for another pleasant afternoon.”
“Please thank your grandmother for the tea and her hospitality.”
“Mr. Cooper invited a group of us to visit his farm tomorrow. Would you like to come? There’s room for one more person. Besides, you will get to taste Mrs. Cooper’s homemade jam as well as milk a cow.”
She laughed. “I’ve never milked a cow before. That should be a very interesting experience.”
He smiled. “I’m sure it will be. Come to the church at 9:30. The bus will be leaving at 10.”
“All right, Father. I’ll be there for 9:30. Thanks for inviting me.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, Father.” She watched him leave, excited about the visit to the farm tomorrow.