“Thawing The Ice” — My Response to ‘Anyone Got a Story’ Writing Challenge

Finally!!! I have been energized by the other authors who have been quick to respond to the writing challenge “Anyone Got a Story to Go With This Picture,” and, at last, I have had an opportunity to sit down and write mine. I offer it below. And remember, there is no time limit on taking part in this challenge, so if you’d like to participate, hop over to the link above and check out the very simple rules. I will also post the link to this story on the original challenge page.

ABSTRACT WHITE CHRISTMAS POND-B & WTHAWING THE ICE

Misty laced up her skates and glided smoothly across the ice. It had been more than a year since she’d come to her favorite pond. The trees were stark silhouettes against the deep snow, barren and seemingly useless in this white wilderness. She felt that way herself. The gray world around her matched her gray and barren heart. Words came back to her now from the whispering past.

“You can’t just give up, Misty. Marcus wouldn’t want you to quit skating. He wouldn’t want you to give up the life you’ve always loved.”

She continued to circle the pond, listening to conversations in her head – all from last year. After the accident. “I can’t skate alone. I’m no good by myself. It’s always been Marcus and me together – from the time we were seventeen.”

“But you’re so gifted, dear,” Mother had insisted. “You were skating beautifully long before you even met Marcus. Why, from the time you put on your first pair of skates – remember? – the pink pair you got for Christmas when you were six? – from that very first day, you’ve been a star in the making. All your fans want to see you back out there on the ice.”

Misty had merely hung her head and wept. She new her mother meant well, but she’d never be able to understand. And Misty was glad her mother had never known that kind of loss.

But her family didn’t understand about the fans either. Yes, her own family were her personal fans, but the fans in all the ice rinks around the world hadn’t been hers. They were fans who loved Misty and Marcus – together – “the darling duo” as they’d been dubbed in more than one news story. The fans wanted to see both of them on the ice, not just one lonely girl –  lost now in a world that had been her own kingdom little more than a year ago.

The cold wind bit at her, but she welcomed the pain. It matched the pain in her heart. And she welcomed the gray world she skated in now. It matched the world she lived the rest of her life in with Marcus dead.

So she skated – round and round the pond – one hour – then another. And with each trip around that pond of her childhood came the memories – like warm flashes of sunlight:  the first time she’d skated in her pink skates; the first day she’d invited Marcus to skate with her there; the first competition they’d entered – and won; the grueling hours of practice that both of them had loved.

Gradually, as the happy memories flooded back and thawed the ice that had held her soul in its lonely, gray world for the past year, Misty began to feel alive again. A smile spread across her face and she flung out her arms as if to embrace this precious pond with its stark trees and white emptiness. She found herself skating into routines she’d used before she and Marcus had become a team. And gradually, she found herself adding moves to those routines. They weren’t done consciously. They just flowed from her as naturally as water flows down a hill when a barrier has been removed.

Her heart began to sing. Her body followed suit. And although the pond and all it’s surroundings were still as gray and barren as they’d been when she’d arrived, Misty discovered that she was now skating in sunshine – in the warmth of her love for Marcus and in the fire of the passion she felt for skating. Perhaps her family and friends had been right after all. Perhaps she did still have a life to live and a gift to give to the world from her kingdom on the ice.

~~~

Writing 201: Poetry – Day 5 — ‘Too Late’

Today’s prompt word is “fog.” The form we’ve been asked to use is the elegy — with strong encouragement to try using elegiac couplets. And the technique assigned for today is the metaphor.

I’ve offered my piece in a slightly modified elegiac couplet, and the only occurrence of a metaphor is in the second line. But since this is the poem that came to me, I did not try to force myself to comply with more exact or more numerous metaphors. I sort of liked the piece the way it came. So, dear readers, that’s the way I’m serving it to you.  (And to set your mind at rest, I will tell you that the poem is NOT based on personal experience — I’m thankful to say.)

CEMETERY - JEFFERSON STREET - PUBDOGTOO LATE

Out from the fog and the daze I am struggling to make my way.
Scrabbling to gather the pieces of my tattered life.

Once I was warm with a love that imbued me with happiness.
Now only memories haunt me and cause my heart strife.

I sought to hold you, to own you, to bind you to me for all time.
Giving no freedom, no breathing space, no chance to fly.

Smothering you with my paranoid jealousy; making you hate me;
Turning your poor heart to stone, and that caused you to die.

Oh, how I long for just one day to relive my tragic mistakes –
One hour to whisper that finally my lesson I’ve learned.

One precious moment to bare my soul as I have never before,
Offering you only the unselfish love that you earned.

But wretch that I am, I have come to the truth only when it’s too late.
Repentant in heart, but with no where to go to confess.

For cold, ‘neath the ground you have lain all these months, and your ears cannot hear.
I’m eternally lost in this fog of remorse, and there is no rest.

~~~

Friday Fictioneers – 2/13/15 — ‘Direct Hit’

Hop over to Rochelle’s place to get the details about taking part in the Friday Fictioneers challenge with your own 100-word story based on the picture below. This week’s photo is thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields as well.  My story is below photo.

VERANDA - ROCHELLE'S

DIRECT HIT

“Your instructions were to meet me on this veranda at 5:00 sharp.”

“Sorry, the tour group just left. They’d have seen us.”

“You bring the dough?”

Nodding, handing over an envelope. “It’s way too high, but here. You’d better be as good as you say.”

Black eyes sparked fire.

“Well, I can’t take any chances. You’re sure you can shoot from here and make the kill with just one shot?”

You just be sure you raise her window and then get out of the way. Or you might get two for the price of one.”

~~~

Joseph’s Decision — a short, short story

This story originally appeared on my blog last year, but only for a short time. I decided to enter it in a writing contest, and the rules of the contest required me to remove it from my public blog until the results were in. Now that the contest is over, I am posting the story anew. It did not find enough favor with the contest judges to be declared a winner, but it’s a winner to me.

RYAN AT COMPUTER - DARKENED

JOSEPH’S DECISION

 

Joseph sat on the bus, staring out the window, unseeing for the first twenty minutes. His mind just needed rest. So much data – so many words – such volatile emotions – too much to deal with right now. His eyes hurt from the glare of the sun, and he needed to close them for a while. Not yet, though. He couldn’t let himself – not so soon. He couldn’t bear to close himself up in his own private world – his own private hell. Not yet. He had to keep his eyes open so that light and color and motion would bombard his mind for at least a little while longer.

The knot in his chest had loosened some. Maybe that was due in part to the even rhythm of the moving bus and the almost imperceptible sound of the wheels against the hot pavement – things, no doubt, completely unnoticed by the majority of the passengers. But Joseph noticed. He seemed especially attuned to sounds and movement in a new way today. All of it seemed amplified somehow. He let out a deep sigh. I’m probably amplifying them in my own imagination, he thought, to keep my mind off the bitter news I just got.

Finally, thanks to the gentle rocking of the bus, he leaned his head against the back of the seat and let his eyelids drift shut. Another deep sigh. Okay, Joseph, it’s time to deal with it. You can do it, Joe.

He took a deep breath. There, that’s better. Another deep breath. That’s it, Joe. Slow and easy – in – and out – in – and out. See, you’re still alive and breathing. Nothing’s changed all that much.

His thoughts drifted back to Dr. Samuels’ office. He shivered slightly at the memory of how cold he’d felt sitting there on the examination table in just his undershirt and shorts. The sterile smell of the room still clung to his nostrils, and his mind replayed images of the signs on the walls describing various ailments and reminding doctors to wash their hands. He’d read every sign at least a dozen times over the past year and knew them by heart, but he still read them every time. It was something to do while he waited for Dr. Samuels, and it kept his mind occupied so that he didn’t try to figure out what the next report might be.

Prior to today’s appointment, he’d imagined numerous possible scenarios and played them over in his mind. Dr. Samuels might say this … and then I would say that … or … maybe he’ll tell me this, and I’ve already made up my mind what my answer will be to that. He closed his eyes a little tighter, stifling a low, mirthless chuckle. Funny – I never – not once – even considered a report like the one I got.

He felt something jostle his arm, so he opened his eyes, looking toward the empty seat on his left. A small, elderly lady had just sat down, and her purse had bumped his arm. “Oh, excuse me,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

He sat up a little straighter and gave his head a slight shake, hoping to clear it. He hadn’t even noticed the bus had stopped. He glanced out the window and realized they had already come half way to his destination. One more stop, and then he’d be at his own jumping off place. Home. It used to always give him a warm feeling to walk up the small concrete sidewalk, step up onto the little porch alcove with the rose trellis on either side, and open his front door to the cozy living room/office where he devoted hours to the work he loved so well.

Writing was his life – had been ever since his young adulthood. There had never been a marriage. He had hoped there would be a time or two, but it hadn’t worked out. And he wasn’t too sad about it. He had a good life – great friends – great audiences for his books – and a family of his own making. The characters that populated his best-selling novels had been born out of him, hadn’t they? And he loved them – everyone of them – even the villains. And many had been the days when he had rushed home, bursting through the front door with ideas literally pouring from his brain faster than he could get to the keyboard and turn them into words.

Well, Joe, it won’t be the same anymore. Everything’s changed now. He focused on the passing scene outside the window. He read a sign on one of the buildings. Then he read a street sign … and another. The bowling alley sign came next. He was seeing all of them for the zillionth time, but he read every word on every one. He had to keep himself from thinking anymore right now.

Finally the sign for his own stop came into view. As the driver made the announcement and slid the bus to a smooth stop, Joseph began to rise from his seat, but, suddenly, he realized his legs felt like lead. He sat back down momentarily, and the lady beside him looked concerned. “Are you all right, sir?”

He made a quick recovery and tried to smile at her. “Y – yes,” he answered. “I think my leg went to sleep. I’ll try to get up more slowly.”

He knew there was nothing wrong with his ability to walk. It was the result of the shock he’d had. The trauma of the news had been enough to shock a better man than he was. He focused all of his mental reserves on making his legs function normally, and finally managed to get up and move out into the aisle. From there, he moved by rote down the steps and through the door to the sidewalk.

As he started down the walk to the next block and his own house, he was amazed that everything around him looked exactly the same. The street looked the same. The traffic whizzed by as usual. The few people he passed looked normal. They spoke a word of greeting and smiled just as if he hadn’t changed at all. Yet his entire world had been wiped out with one simple sentence less than an hour ago.

The roses smelled the same as he stepped onto his porch and inserted his key in the lock. Stepping into the room, he let his eyes search out all the pieces of furniture and equipment that provided his comfortable, peaceful, productive life. He closed the door behind him and walked farther into the room. You’re home Joe. Really home … and it hasn’t changed a bit. It’s exactly the way you left it.

He started to genuinely relax for the first time since he’d stepped into Dr. Samuels’ office three hours ago. He pulled off his jacket, yanked his tie loose, and tossed it on the chair after the jacket. He walked to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of his favorite juice, downing half of it in one drink. His stomach had been so knotted up when he’d left the doctor’s office that he hadn’t even tried to get lunch. In fact, he’d thought he could never eat or drink again. But he took another drink now. It felt really good going down. And, come to think of it, one of those frozen dinners he’d stocked up on yesterday sounded downright appetizing.

He kicked off his shoes, ambled over to the computer desk, and sat down. Touching the mouse, he focused on the screen. There it was: the new baby – novel number twenty-five – bright and shiny and full of life – staring right back at him from the screen with the familiar challenge that compelled him to create another chapter and another and another. Every word was a part of him – his offspring. Yes, this was life to him. This was all he needed.

Other thoughts tried to intrude, but he kept pushing them aside. Finally, at one point, he got up and walked to the wall on which he kept his main calendar. He stared at it. Dr. Samuels had said, “Six months at the outside. Maybe not that long. I’m indescribably sorry, Joe.”

Joseph reached up and ripped the calendar off the wall. He tore it in half and tossed in into the waste basket as he spoke out loud in response to the words of the medical report: “What is time, anyway, Doc? It’s all relative, isn’t it? Why, I’ve given hundreds of characters entire lifetimes in less than six months.”

He walked back to the computer and placed his hands on the keyboard again. “Sorry, Doc … I’ve got too many lives depending on me right here in this keyboard. I just don’t have time to die.”

~~~

 

 

~~~

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week 120

Well, I’m almost late with my story for this week’s challenge, and, to be honest, I’m a tad over the word limit, but I don’t have any more time to edit it further. So here’s my offering for Julia’s picture prompt.

 Week#18

THE BUNDLE

At dusk, Marla went to retrieve her shoes from the window where she’d left them to dry after the storm. Glancing out, she saw an old woman exit the side of the building across the street. But that building had been abandoned for a year!

The woman, carrying a small, tight bundle, sneaked through the deserted street to the river’s edge. After looking around furtively, she heaved the bundle into the rushing water.

Barely able to see through the gathering gloom now, Marla glanced back at the building and saw an adolescent girl’s face in the window. The girl’s frightened eyes met Marla’s for a second before the girl ducked from view.

Marla tried not to understand what she had seen.

~~~

Visit the host of the 100-Word Challenge:
http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week120/

 

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Charming Gardeners

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  (Marcel Proust).
Exif JPEG

During the last six months, I lost my father, my closest uncle, and three wonderful friends. During these experiences, I have found myself thinking of several others I’m close to who have also recently gone on from this world to be with the Lord. Each of those people were truly “charming gardeners” in my life. They added so much richness to my life and so much joy that it is impossible to adequately describe the effect of their lives upon mine.

Some of them I saw virtually every day, some every month or two, and a few only a couple times a year. But our love and our relationship was a living, active reality that I was constantly aware of possessing. It’s only natural then, I suppose, that I am still a little overwhelmed, from time to time, at the void I experience just knowing they are not here with me any longer. Just yesterday, I was driving along in my car, and suddenly a new realization of the void each of them has left rose up in me, and I found myself saying, “My life is getting so empty.”

I am thrilled to be able to say that each of those individuals knew the Lord Jesus, and I have no doubts that we will be reunited in Heaven in the future. But the interim – the time of my living out this earthly struggle without them – weighs heavily on me.

Now, I would hasten to add that I do still have a few family members and several other wonderful friends alive and active in my life, and they still add to my joy. So, in truth, my life is not technically “empty.” But it’s still true that the presence of those lost – and the effect of their presence on me – has left an empty place that nothing else, and no one else can fill.

However, I have also realized that this “garden” I call my life still bears the fruit of their influence upon it. They have tilled the soil of my life, and they have enriched it with the nutrients of their love, their grace, and their personal gifts. They have planted seeds of themselves in that garden. And they have indeed caused my soul to “blossom.” So I have the joy of knowing that I will continue to produce those “blossoms.” I will continue to bear the fruit of their plantings in my life, so I still have a very real part of them with me.

I’m so grateful for those “blossoms.” And I count them very dear. I find that I also count more dear than ever before the presence and influence of those who are still a physical part of my life. I find myself wanting to spend more time with those loved ones and to be sweeter and kinder to them than ever before. And I understand more every day that nothing else in this world – no physical wealth, no fame, no prestige or power – can compare in value to the personal relationships we have with the people who love us and depend on our love.

One of the greatest treasures I could wish for those of you reading these words is that you have the blessing of such “charming gardeners” in your own life, that you bear the fruit of their planting, and that you become a “charming gardener” in the lives of all those you have relationship with.

~~~

 

 

~~~

Focus

STAR, PATH, TEXT

During the last five months, beginning with the death of my father at the end of July, I have lost five precious people from my life — either family members or personal friends. During that time, my life has read like the obituary column of a newspaper. It goes without saying that I am sad and discouraged beyond words, and the celebration of this Christmas season has been seriously clouded by these events.

I am comforted to some degree by the assurance that every one of these people has moved on into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing them as well as I did, I have no doubts about their faith and their personal relationship to Jesus. So I am certain that they are rejoicing and reaping well-deserved rewards. And, without a doubt, Heaven is richer.

But the simple truth is that my life is poorer. The community in which they lived is poorer. The whole world is poorer. There is no substitute for any one of those loving individuals in the lives of the people who were close to them. 

Now, I will not live my days in overt grief over my losses, and I will continue to love and serve the Lord with the joy that only He can give. But in the midst of that effort, I will be constantly aware that there are too many lights missing from my life, there are too many voices of love and blessing that I no longer hear, and there are too many smiles of comfort and appreciation that I no longer see. And I am sad.

So it is with the greatest of efforts that I must force my own soul to keep its focus on His star. And it is my prayer that any of my readers who have also suffered intolerable losses of any kind this past year will make the effort to do the same. The Word of God says that God has set eternity in man’s heart. And in the face of so much earthly loss, it is of paramount importance that we focus on eternity and on the One who has no beginning and no end, and who loves us with an everlasting love.

~~~

 

~~~

 

 

Repost: ‘My Dad – A Job Well Done’

Today is a sad day for me. My father passed away. But because he loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart and has served Him faithfully since he was 12 years old, he went right from our family’s presence into the presence of Jesus.  So although I am sad for me, I must rejoice exceedingly for him.

In honor of his life and his loving care of me, I am re-posting this article about my dad (originally posted on Father’s Day, 2012).  I hope it blesses you, my readers.

 

DAD & MEJust what is a father’s most important job? To love? To provide? To discipline? Certainly all of the above would qualify as part of his job description. But, ultimately, I believe a father’s most important responsibility is to show his children what the Father God is like. That responsibility involves telling his kids about God.

But telling isn’t enough. Kids learn more from what they experience than from what they hear. And when children are told that God is their “Father,” they naturally relate that “Father” to the only other “father” they have experience with – their flesh and blood daddy. I have been inordinately blessed by God’s gift to me of a father who didn’t just talk to me about my Heavenly Father, but who excelled in demonstrating God to me. And although my life of 64 years is full of one experience after another of my dad’s faithfulness to show me God, there are three specific experience that are indelibly embedded in my memory.

The Word tells us that God is a father who enjoys His kids. He enjoyed recreation with Adam and Eve in the Garden; He enjoyed parties when He was on earth in the person of Jesus; He was always instructing Israel to have a party in His presence; and He even says He rejoices over us with singing and dancing. My dad has always been able to get into the spirit of having fun with his kids. When I was very small, he bought me a train that had a real steam engine with sparks and smoke that billowed out as it ran around the track. He delighted in playing trains with me.

But I think the events that stand out most clearly in my memory of a dad who was willing to come down to my level and have fun were the episodes in the grocery stores. My mom, dad, sister, and I always went grocery shopping as a family. That’s often a fun experience for kids, but my sister and I had the privilege of having a dad who wanted to add to our fun. So sometimes, if the store was not crowded, he would roll the shopping cart into a clear aisle, prop one foot on the bottom rung, push off with the other foot, and go flying down the aisle, grinning from ear to ear, all for the sake of bringing squeals of delight to two little girls. I’m sure others thought he was silly, but giving his girls such a treat was worth it to him. Those experiences left us convinced that dads loved to “play” with their kids, and they opened a door between God and me that made me sure I could enjoy Him just like I did my earthly dad.

The Word also tells us that God’s ears are always open to the cries of His children and that He is always present with them in trouble to deliver them. When I was a child, I was plagued by a lot of fears – most of them unnamed and foolish – but there nevertheless. God eventually got control of my life enough to deliver me from all fear, but in early years I often had serious trouble sleeping peacefully. Many nights I woke up sick, but I believe most of it was the result of fear. The cause didn’t matter, however. What mattered was that when I awoke and called for my parents, it was often my dad who immediately heard my cry and came to my side. Certainly my mom was equally loving and attentive, but for some reason my call usually woke my dad first. I have lost count of all the nights he patiently and lovingly gave up sleep to comfort and pray for me.

Once, even as a young adult still living at home, I became ill one night with alarming symptoms. I didn’t call for my parents, but my dad woke and heard me stirring around in the wee hours. He came to check on me and found me sitting in the living room, in the throes of, not only the symptoms themselves, but also the disabling fear brought on by those symptoms. He immediately suggested I make a bed on the living room sofa, gave me two aspirin, sat down in a big chair opposite the sofa, and started talking to me from God’s Word. He spoke God’s truth to me until he had talked me back into faith. He then continued to sit in that chair and promised me that he would sit there and pray until I was back to normal.

Within minutes I was sound asleep. I woke once some time later to see him still sitting in that chair praying. After that night I was totally delivered from that physical problem. But more importantly, my dad’s concrete example made me even more convinced that when my Heavenly Father said He’d be there for me, He’d really be there. I’ve never doubted it once since that night.

The Word also promises us that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and will provide for us liberally. My dad has worked hard ever since I’ve known him. He’s worked hard at earning money, at providing a peaceful and safe environment for our family, at serving the Kingdom of God, and at helping those less fortunate than himself. When growing up, I was aware that we were less than financially prosperous by the world’s standards, but we never felt that we wanted for any necessities. And, somehow, my parents’ efforts and sacrifices managed to provide a few extras as well.

One particular experience of provision during my early college years stands out. I was commuting to school at the time so still living under my dad’s roof. I got up one morning and walked into the kitchen, straight to the bread box, intent on making toast. The box was empty. Now, my dad generally left for work a little before the rest of us woke, and we had only one car at the time, so grocery shopping usually had to wait until he was home. When I saw the bread box empty, I thought, “Oh no! Now what can we do?” I wasn’t anxious to begin my day with a very long walk in the heat to the nearest store. Then suddenly, in the very next second, I thought, “Wait a minute! I know my dad. He would not have gone off with the car for the whole day and left all of us with no bread! I know he had to get us bread!” With that thought I began looking around, and turning to the other end of the kitchen, I saw a brand new loaf of bread in the middle of the table. Dad had been to the store to buy the loaf before he left for work.

That event may seem minor to many people, but at that point, God Himself spoke to my heart and said, “You see: In exactly the same way that you absolutely know without a doubt that your dad would not fail to provide even something as minor as bread, you can also know without a doubt that I will never fail to provide everything you need.” I have thought of this incident many times throughout my life. It has quickened my faith each time. And I have to wonder what my life would have been like if I had not had a dad I could trust so implicitly as my example.

Needless to say, I consider my dad worthy of being named “Father of the Year.” He will always be my winner. And whether he is ever awarded any earthly honors or not, there is an enormous reward awaiting him in Heaven for having exemplified so accurately that Holy Father to whom all creation will eventually bow its knee.

Thank you, Dad!  Happy Father’s Day!

~~~


Friday Fictioneers — 7/12/13 – The Promise

goats_and_graves_3_randy_mazie

Copyright: Randy Mazie

THE PROMISE

“Hey, Gramps.” Sighing heavily, Ronnie lowered himself onto the flat monument beside his Grandfather’s. Warm sun soaked him, highlighting the beloved name engraved in the stone he focused on.

Quiet …

“Well … I just got out again. Two years this time.” Tears brimmed. “I’m sure sorry, Sir … for messin’ up my life.”

A twig snapped, broke the silence. Ron looked right – chuckled. “I see your neighbor still keeps your goats. That’s good. They can come visit.”

Ten minutes passed. “I’ve been thinkin’ a lot about what you always told me: A real man does what’s right no matter what.” Tears flowed now.

Reaching to lay his hand on the engraved letters, Ronnie finally choked out words again. “I promise, Gramps. Starting day … I’ll be a real man.”

~~~

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields. Visit her site to get all the details and join in the fun.

 

June Writing Challenge: More Graphic Art From Terry

Terry Valley had such a great time reading all of your stories from the last writing challenge based on his graphic art that he has sent me another picture – the result of further graphic art work by him. But he wants me to make it clear that he did not actually draw this picture. Rather, he took portions of other works and put them together to create this composite picture. One of his favorite artists is Gustave Dore, whose work is now in public domain in the U. S., and the main characters in this picture come from Dore’s work.

Terry also shared his original intent for the picture and explained what it means to him, but I have posted that well below the picture itself. That way, any of you who want to try your hand at responding to the writing challenge can be free to process what the picture inspires in you and write your story before you read Terry’s purpose and meaning behind it. Or – feel free to read his explanation first.

 If you’d like to accept the challenge and write a story, just post it on your blog, come over here, and post your link in the “Comments” section below.

Word Limit is 100-500 words.

No time limit: Write when you feel inspired.

Take your liberty with ideas, but please remember this is a “G” rated blog, so all stories must adhere to that rating. I hope we have a lot of response, and I’m eager to read all the stories. Also, I guess I’d better try to write one as well.

Here’s Terry’s artwork:

TERRY'S GATES OF HELL - CREDITS - LARGER

~

Terry’s Explanation of What the Picture Means to Him:

“The picture is meant to portray the seriousness of our existence. We are not our own, despite the human pride that says otherwise. We belong to God who created us. If we do not realize this in this life, it will become terrifyingly clear to us at death. The scene shows a human being after his death at the portal to his eternal destiny, represented by a gate set in the unbounded vastness of eternity.

He is on his knees, hands raised in desperate terror, pleading with the giant spiritual being before him who guards the gate to eternity and is pointing at the formerly complacent human being who now realizes – too late –that his complacency has doomed him to eternal fire – which is perilously close and licks all around him and the Angel of the Gate, the Death Angel.

To make the man’s grief and predicament all the worse, in the far distance, behind him, can be seen a single bright star, which represents the glorious and joyous destiny that could have been his. The star is behind him, as is his life on earth; he turned his back on the glorious future that could have been his, if he had not wasted his life on himself instead of living for the One — Jesus — who created him for Himself.

This is the moment of moments in his entire life, the one, last moment that decides his destiny for all eternity. But in truth, that destiny was decided long before, while he was still alive on earth. Now it is too late. Judgment has been set – and it cannot be changed.

That may sound like a lot to see in a single picture, but that is why it was created and what I hope it portrays and communicates.”

~~~

Friday Fictioneers – 5/17/13 — ‘Albert’s Wife’

aqueduct-sarah-ann-hallPhoto by Sarah Hall

 

Albert’s Wife

The estate still boasted its artistic iron fence and stone posts, although the grasses were encroaching. Trevor smiled. How the old lady would chastise that gardener.

Feisty, courageous old girl! Living alone in the home Albert had built her. Married here on a Sunday, by Tuesday, she’d kissed her soldier husband goodbye.

Next year, a scruffy teen hired to paint the fence, Trevor had won her heart – and she’d won his. He’d been there (the son she’d never have) to hold her hand as she’d read the black-edged telegram and cried. She’d refused to live in mourning, but seventy years she never loved but one man.

Today, at last, she was with Albert.

~~~

To join in and write your own 100-word story inspired by this picture, visit Rochelle’s site for the ‘how-to’ details.

 

Hatred & War Cannot Quench Love

Civil War Soldier Sullivan Ballou Echoes King Solomon.

The Song of Songs, by King Solomon, says, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart … for love is strong as death.  … Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”  (Songs of Songs  8:6-7).   Those words were penned many centuries ago by an Israelite king, but during the American Civil War, a Union soldier penned words that echoed those of Solomon, almost exactly, in a letter to his wife about one week before he died.

FLAG & CANNON EMBOSSED REDMajor Sullivan Ballou poured out his heart to the one woman he knew would understand it, his wife Sarah.  He told her, “Sarah, my love for you is deathless.  It seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence can break.  Yet my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me … to the battlefield.”  In another statement he describes the level of his commitment to his love of country as well as his wife: “I know … how great a debt we owe to those who went before us, through the blood and suffering of the Revolution, and I am … perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to maintain this government and to pay that debt.”

In those words, Sullivan Ballou spoke for every American soldier who has left loved ones safe at home to go into hate-filled, death-filled foreign lands and willingly give everything he had — including his own life — to make sure those loved ones were kept safe — and that the nation whose constitution undergirded that safety was defended and secured from all that would try to destroy it.

SOLDIER COLLAGE SEPIA JPGIn every war that America has fought, thousands of her soldiers have gone courageously into harm’s way because they believed in the truth that “love is strong as death.”  They believed that all the hatred and all the wars this world will ever know cannot quench love.  And they have been right:  ALL THE HATRED AND ALL THE WARS THIS WORLD WILL EVER KNOW CANNOT QUENCH LOVE — because real love comes from only one source: the eternal, unfathomable, unquenchable Creator of the universe.  It is He who gives soldiers like Sullivan Ballou the unquenchable love that he writes about in his letter — love for his wife — and love for his country and all it represents to millions of people who long with all their hearts for freedom and security.

~~~

NaPoWriMo – Day 15 – A Pantun

NAPO 2013 BUTTON

Just in case we have new readers who are not familiar withNaPoWriMo, perhaps I should explain again. It’s been a couple weeks since we talked about it in detail. April is National Poetry Month, and Maureen Thorson, in Washington, D. C. hosts a blogsite that invites all poets to participate in a special challenge in celebration of that fact by writing a poem a day for the 30 days of April. Thus NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). Maureen gives us a new prompt for each day, but the prompts are totally voluntary. We can follow them or write some other kind of poem entirely. We are only halfway through the month, so anyone can still join in the fun. Just hop over to this link and get started: http://www.napowrimo.net

Day 15:  Pantun is a Malay form of poetry. Although it has been changed and adapted into a slightly different form by the French and English, our challenge today is to write a poem following the exact formula of the original Malay Pantun. That formula consists of a quatrain with 8-12 syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of abab. Furthermore, although there is no formal logical connection required between the two halves of each quatrain, there is supposed to be some degree of “imaginative or imagistic connection” between the two.

I decided, in the interest of time, to limit myself to one quatrain. The following has 10 syllables per line, and I think I’ve met the other requirements as well. Moreover, I’ve shared a powerful truth.

SWORDSWEAPONS

One man may wield with ease a sharp-honed sword,
And drawing blood, strike death with that long knife.
Another for his weapon chooses words,
Yet with dead aim, he too destroys a life.

~~~