Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)
TITLE: The Soul Soother
By Jack Taylor
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I think it was the soother. Or maybe it was the arms thrown back in abandon. Whatever it was I couldn’t help noticing.
With the challenge of a dozen decisions that had to be made yesterday, I flumped down into the airport lounge and flipped open my laptop. People were waiting for permission, for answers, for direction. My temple pulsated with a beat that Tylenol would barely control. The pressure cooker in my head had been building all day as meetings ran late, another strong perfume wearer trapped me in the elevator for 15 floors, the taxi was caught in rush hour, the check-in line seemed extra long in the airport, the ticket had complications and security insisted on rummaging through my neatly packed things and invading my body space with a pat down.
And that’s when I looked up and saw him. He might have been shy of his first birthday but he’d lived long enough to know what mattered.
The car seat provided all the security he needed to release his cares to someone else. The soother slipped out and fell to the full length of the string attached to the safety pin on his shoulder strap. The quivering lips made feeble attempts at sucking and then settled into stillness. The arms draped back limply over his dark hair. Little fingers unfurled from little fists until he was left just holding air. A sigh slipped out and he escaped the madness of the crowds rushing to be where other crowds were rushing to abandon.
The irritating announcer continued his muffled interruptions, the teens continued to argue over the buttered popcorn they were spilling on the carpet, the panicking late arrivals still ran pulling their carry-ons like reluctant puppies, the incessant beep of the special assistance cart echoed off the walls, the television blared its news about a plane crash in China, and the sweat continued to trickle down my spine. His little runners didn’t even twitch.
I slowly folded my laptop and began to wonder about the few times I’d experienced that calm. Sitting on an inner tube as a teen out in the middle of Bunsen Lake; Canoeing on the Skeena in the late spring watching an eagle catch an updraft; kayaking at Telegraph Cove as the tide gently slooshed against the shore; making snow angels at Cyprus Bowl and watching the cotton candy clouds drifting by; watching the carp and the turtles and the ducks at Central Park… nowhere to be, nothing to do.
Those were the days of childhood that I longed to reach for as I watched a sleeping child in the middle of an international airport with a dozen languages sounding in my ear. I slipped my laptop into its case and reached for something that had long been a soother for my own soul.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way…Be still, and know that I am God…”
I looked across at my sleeping friend. The yellow bear on the bib of his blue overalls still hibernated on the chest of its owner. The soother lay nestled near the honey pot. I captured the image in my mind, set everything aside, closed my eyes and copied the little one who was still and knew.
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