The morning of our daughter’s wedding dawned cloudy and windy. Every time we checked, the weather predictions grew worse. Wind whistled through the tree limbs, whipping whitecaps across the lake beyond the house we’d rented for the weekend. Although weather portended wedding challenges, nature’s show was nevertheless exciting. I scooped up our granddaughter, bundled us in quilts, and cuddled her to me in a deck chair overlooking the water. We sat quietly for a few minutes, taking in the majesty and mayhem.

“Isn’t it funny,” I asked Olivia, “how you can’t see the wind but you can see what wind does to the trees and the water?” We watched the branches relax and then begin to sway once more as the winds picked up.  “The Hebrew word for wind is ruach,” I said, “That same word also means breath or spirit. Some people say that the wind is God’s breath.” Olivia snuggled closer for a moment and then asked humanity’s eternal question, “Is God real?”

“It’s hard to believe something that we cannot see, isn’t it?” I replied. “You feel Mama and Dada’s love for you, yes?” She nodded. “Is it real even though you can’t see it?” Another nod. “Some people believe God is real. Some people don’t,” I replied. “I believe that even though we can’t see God, we see what God makes possible: the beauty of the world, the love that we feel for one another. Our holidays and Shabbat.”  

When Olivia lived nearby, she would stay the night with us. Come morning, we’d go into the back yard and sing in Hebrew a morning prayer of thanks to God for giving us a new day.  I am certain kids come into the world attuned to a Divine whisper. All too soon earthbound voices overtake the whisper. I wanted to maintain a space for Olivia to continue to be able to hear what so many traditions call the “still small voice within.” We shared one last cuddle before the cold drove us inside. 

Before we knew it, wedding time arrived. The winds, which  had continued all afternoon, were now joined by a sudden snow squall. Olivia refused to relinquish her role as flower girl. Shoulders hunched, hands dug deep into the pockets of her white faux fur jacket, she walked with determination despite snow now blowing sideways across her path. 

Life will indeed buffet my sweet girl. From time to time capricious winds will blow her off course before calming once again. What might Olivia strain to hear within the maelstrom? Will she listen with yearning? With doubt? Turn a deaf ear altogether? 

Is God real? How can I look at this beautiful soul that is my granddaughter, and now her little sister as well, and believe otherwise? I cannot.


Photo, “Storm on the Lake” courtesy of  glindsay65, is licensed under Creative Commons



  1. Elizabeth

    Such an eloquent and moving piece.

  2. Debra Darvick

    Thank you, Elizabeth. I wish you could have seen her making her way down
    the path. This little one in a white tulle dress scattered with glitter, walking slowly despite
    the cold. The last few feet she ran to her Dada for a huge hug and to warm up. After a few tears she
    was totally back in wedding mode and had a blast the rest of the evening.

  3. Sybil Malinowski Melody

    Thanks for sharing such a deeply personal story with such a universal message. May your lovely granddaughters be blessed.

    • Debra Darvick

      Thank you, Sybil. A writing teacher once taught us that contrary to what one might assume,
      specificity in our work broadens the experience and makes it more personal at the same time.
      I appreciate your comment. Yes, may Olivia and Leah be blessed always.

  4. Helene

    You never fail to wow me. I love your website!

    • Debra Darvick

      Thank you, Sweetheart! I love the breadth it gives me to share.

  5. Manny Kalef

    Having watched OLIVIA grow up I can believe that when she has something to do, she will do it. I have seen her determination.

    Just asking if there is a God is remarkable for someone her age.

    • Debra Darvick

      Yes, Manny, it cheers me that you have seen her in action!

  6. Laurei

    Oh my goodness, Debra, could you have described God any better????? I adore this piece! I felt Olivia’s beautiful questioning mind, and was in awe of your magnificent conversation with her! All I can say is, “My heart floweth over!”

  7. Elissa Koopmans Schwartz

    Beautiful writing and sentiments, as always, Debra! I agree that God’s handiwork and presence is clear in nature and within us. Olivia is one smart and inquisitive little girl. Your responses to her question were perfect!


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