It is Springtime

Ten- year-old Kimmy looked at the lush surroundings outside the window of her grandparents' home. The bare trees were now teeming with green leaves. At springtime, the drab hills and fields blazed with colors in the countryside of Japan.

“At last!“ Kimmy beamed happily, “I can't wait to have fun!”

“I know,” Grandma replied. “Now you can play outside as much as you want.”

“Oh, grandma. It's so exciting to be back here!” Kimmy's eyes twinkled as she gave her grandmother a big hug and a quick smack on her face.

Hurriedly, Kimmy took the kite her grandpa made her and skipped into the sunlight. Her sprightly figure held on to the string as she began to release the kite and watched it drift away with the wind.

Just then Grandpa called. “Kimmy, I'm sure you would like to come walk along with me to the park and up to that hill. You'll enjoy flying your kite better when you get there.”

“Good idea!” she replied.

Kimmy pulled back the string as fast as she could. The kite plunged into the ground like an eagle and landed at grandpa's feet.

“This is such a great kite, grandpa. Thanks a lot,” Kimmy said. Grandpa's sober face turned into a smile. “Hmmm… you bet! Great kids deserve great things.” He patted her shoulder and they started their walk to the park. Along the way, Kimmy enjoyed the stories grandpa told her. His stories made her laugh and think. She had always looked forward to springtime, doing the things she'd like to do and listening to stories of long ago while she and Grandpa sat sipping hot drinks on the warm carpeted floor with soft cushions all around. Besides, Kimmy had many good reasons to love spending vacation in this carefree little town, away from home in the crowded city.

Grandpa and Kimmy walked slowly along the bridge that curbed like a bow over the stream. There, people would view the cherry blossoms blooming abundantly nearby. Their lovely spray were like clusters of cotton candies clinging to the boughs. Kimmy watched with amusement as the wind scattered the fallen blossoms that soon floated on the water just below the bridge.

“I wish these flowers would stay in bloom. They surely make this place a beautiful sight,” Kimmy said.

“I'm sure they do,” Grandpa agreed. “A lot of people come just to view them. Unfortunately, cherry blossoms bloom only briefly. To the Japanese they are a symbol of the brevity of life.”

Clutching her kite, Kimmy walked with grandpa farther into the hill where a torii (a gate that leads to a Shinto shrine) stood. The torii led them to a famous Shinto shrine. Many times Kimmy admired the shrines that stood in lovely settings all across Japan. She was curious to know what they're all about. Grandpa called the shrine a sacred place. A shrine is a traditional symbol of Shintoism, which is the main religion of the Japanese.

“This is where the people come to pray to their gods. Some treasured things they consider as sacred relics are kept here,” Grandpa explained. “Many people believe in many gods. The spirits of the gods were said to rest in mountains, rivers, the sky, and even grass and trees,” he added.

“But grandpa, I wonder, would the gods expect us to pray to them, too?” Kimmy asked.

“Well, child, people have different beliefs. I used to think they would until I found there's only one great God in heaven who understands and cares all about what we do. He is so real I can feel Him in my heart. When the cherry blossoms bloom and wither, it reminds us that life on earth is brief. But we can always look up to the God who gives eternal life.” Grandpa looked into Kimmy's eyes. He knew she understood when she nodded and turned to him with a smile.

Sharing Grandpa's hope and faith with her family gave Kimmy a sense of hope and security. For a moment she gazed into the sky. Her hands held on to the string as tightly as she could and she watched her kite soar smoothly like a bird up into the air.

Arts | Fiction | Short Stories

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