"When Joseph came down the stairs, Daniel and Mary smiled. But when he took his seat and opened the notebook without a wink or a warm word, the children felt his sadness, his despair.

"Oh, they wished they could rush to him and hug him so hard and tell him everything would be all right, but they did no such thing. Everything was not all right, and they knew it. Momma was gone and soon their farm and their home would be gone. Poppa's misery made its way into their young hearts like a gray smoke that slips through cracks and under closed doors. Inevitably their sadness turned to fear. What would become of them? Like the siren's song calling sailors to their death, the voice of fear frightened them but they could not stop listening. Tears made their silent way down the children's cheeks. Their father was too big to cry, but the children knew that his tears were spilling over on the inside.

"In time, Joseph reached for the notebook and flipped it open. He read,


"When you talk you are a dam overflowing, but when you listen you are an open vessel ready to receive.

"Reluctantly I disclose to you that I was such a man whose words spilled over. Like a drum I banged my prayer into God's head in an effort to help God remember.

"The Second Secret means write your prayer down once and talk no more of it to God. From that point forth listen. Only listen.

" 'And where,' I asked Grandma Mary, 'might a farmer like me with chores to do from sunrise to sundown find time to listen?'

" 'Return to your work, do what you must, but with a part of you ever inclined toward listening. Know that God speaks to us continuously, but we cannot hear if we do not listen.'

"That God must work so hard to get our attention wrenches my heart, my son.

"Joseph turned the page intending to read the third secret, but the text cautioned him otherwise.

"Do not read the Third Secret until you have spent this night listening. You will be surprised by how much one is able to hear in the silence.

"Joseph closed the notebook and pushed it across the table. Without a single word of protest, they rose and climbed the stairs to their bedrooms.

"Tonight the prayer in all three of their hearts was simple: they prayed for sleep, where a sweet, albeit temporary, forgetfulness awaited them."