Sarah dashed in from school, "I saw a bunch of blue balloons blowing on Mrs. Kennedy's porch. Did she have her baby already?"
"I'm afraid so," Mom said sadly. "He's seven weeks early, and he isn't doing well at all."
"He's not going to die, is he?" Sarah gasped.
"Oh, I hope not, honey," Mom said. Tears glistened in her eyes. "They've waited so long for a child, and they were so excited that he was finally on the way."
Sarah had been excited about her neighbors' baby, too, and she hadn't pictured his arrival like this. She had never imagined that the birth of a baby could be a sad occasion and it made her feel terrible. She kept thinking about the day that she and Mom went to Lullabies, the baby store, with Mrs. Kennedy and picked out a crib, a car seat, and a swing.
"Did they name him yet?" Sarah asked, not sure of what else to say.
Mom wiped her tears. "Yes, they named him 'Joshua David.' Their priest went to the hospital and baptized him right away."
"Oh," Sarah was confused. "Do Catholics have their babies baptized in hospitals? My friend Amy's parents went to church and then had a big party for her baby sister when she got baptized."
"Yes. They usually do it in church, except in emergencies." Mom's last word made Sarah realize how sick Baby Joshua must be.
"Anyway, I love his name," Sarah said. "It's so Hebrew."
Mom smiled. "Well, where do you think their Old Testament came from? Pray for all the Kennedys, okay, Sarah?"
For the rest of the evening Sarah thought and wondered, and she did pray. It was just before she dozed off that an idea struck her. She ran in to the living room to tell her parents.
"I'm giving my tree to Joshua."
Dad glanced up from his magazine. "You're doing what?"
"Giving my tree to Joshua. The maple I planted for Tu Bishevat. I've been praying for him to get strong and healthy, just like my tree. Remember when it first came up? You said it was a pitiful little stick, and we thought it would never get a leaf. Well, look at it now. In another week, it can be planted outdoors, and then I'll bet it'll really start growing." Sarah was out of breath when she finished.
"I don't think the Kennedys understand Tu Bishevat, Sarah." Dad hesitated. "They're not our faith."
Her lip quivered with disappointment. "I know that, Dad. But God is still God no matter what people are."
Mom said, "It's a lovely idea, Sarah. I can't think of a better gift."
Sarah took a deep breath. She went back to her room and slept more peacefully than she expected she would.
Two days later, Sarah saw the Kennedy's car pull into the driveway. She grabbed her tree and carried it next door. Mrs. Kennedy looked pale and tired, but she hugged Sarah and said, "There's our girl. How nice to see you!"
"I planted this tree for Tu Bishevat. It's a Jewish festival that means New Year of the Trees. We believe that trees are symbols for whatever is good and strong. So I want Joshua to have it," she said.
"Oh, Sarah," said Mrs. Kennedy, hugging Sarah again. "What a beautiful and thoughtful gift! Thank you so very much."
"You're welcome," said Sarah, happy that she had gone through with her plan.
As the days passed, Sarah kept hope in her heart and Joshua in her prayers. After dinner one evening, there was a soft knock at the kitchen door. "Come in," called Mom as she and Sarah cleared the table.
It was Mrs. Kennedy, and by the expression on her face, Sarah could tell she had good news.
"He's going to make it," Mrs. Kennedy cried. She and Mom and Sarah shared a huge hug, then laughed and chatted over Mom's crumbly, delicious apple cobbler.
Mrs. Kennedy has just finished digging a hole Joshua's Tree... (continued from page 25)
with a spade when Sarah approached. "Our prayers have been answered, Sarah," he said. "Joshua's growing stronger every day, just like his tree."
Sarah noticed four new leaves.
"It's going right outside his window, there." Mr. Kennedy pointed. "They can grow up together, Joshua and his tree." He leaned on the spade. "It's the only right that you do the honors," he nodded toward the pot.
Sarah dislodged Joshua's tree from its pot and set it in the ground. She held it upright while Mr. Kennedy filled the hole back up with soil. As they straightened up, Mrs. Kennedy and Sarah's parents joined them in the yard.
Everyone gazed admiringly at the tree, each in his or her own way, marveling at the miracle.
-- Virginia Kroll, author, Hamburg, New York.