Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)
TITLE: Black Astonishment
By Eric Ringle
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Standing in this place, it’s hard to fathom the depths of which I came from.
Outside, the newness of the dawn, the sunrise, smell of the morning dew and sounds of life seem foreign yet they already have the power to erase painful memories. Healing has begun yet at times I am tempted to turn, and gaze into the darkness of the cave, which seemed for so long to not have and exit. The bore my eyes create to give me some sight into the past is discomforting. After all, if I had wanted to escape for so long, why would I want to look back? This question becomes an obsessive thought that will ravage my brain if I cannot contain it. Am I trying to understand the blackness? Impossible! How I got out? Maybe I am in awe that I came out at all, a survivor.
The day was bright and cheerful when I entered. It was an unknown cave to me, but I was always up for an adventure. My hopes were high, after all, what could go wrong with this adventure, I reasoned?
I soon learned when I was not far in, that this was not a darkness I had ever experienced before.. I knew where I had come from but could no longer see it as an exit. Was there an exit? Time taught me, this was not what I had anticipated. With each new encounter in the cave, the entire idea of entering at all became more appalling. Trapped, fearful and at times I encountered violence. As I continued to search for a way out I realized that each tunnel I explored as a means of egress, had a dead end. And the corpses which lay nearby confirmed that. These situations created a weakness in me and I found myself reacting to the dread in a panic. More dismay, less options, and the sooty air became choking, stealing air and life from me. I also contemplated over and over how I was now alone. How could this be if I did not enter alone? Yet it was so. The life lines that I had brought in with me were quickly disappearing, without me even realizing. Why was I so stupid and naive to let this happen? Why was I not able to find a way out?
Of course, there were the prayers. Unceasing at times. Angry prayers, “how could you watch me enter the cave, knowing the absence of light that lied within”? “I loved you God, do you love me”? Still the answer came back the same. I had been given enough to enter, and exit on my own. That thought was like a cold, wet towel in the face. I couldn’t even SEE. How would I journey out? As my thoughts proceeded forward, a new fear enveloped me and smelled like death, suffocating me. If, a huge IF, I found a way out, what would I find? As it stands I have been in here for an immeasurable time and I had not seen the place from where I came for so long. Was it changed? More importantly, how had this time here changed ME?
As my despair reached a pinnacle, I began to think of darker options. Not consciously, of course. I had been a reasonable man to begin with. But I was changing. No, these would just pop into my mind from time to time and scare the hell out of me. Fleeting ideas at first, then they became obsessive. “Oh God”, I prayed, “tell me there are other choices, please”. “Show me!” Joining the skeletons, I knew, was NOT an option. These ideas ravaged my courage. I felt like a coward.
I had an inspiration, from above it must have come. I alone must build my escape tunnel. Out of the cave into a new world that would be strange to me. A world that I knew used to contain life, my life.
I do not remember the departure, or even how I created the pathway. Then, the first breaths on the exterior answered all my fears. The aromas, the touch and the beauty that awaited me were excruciatingly wonderful. I heard the peace of silence, encountered those who waited for me with love, viewed the stars again and thanked Him. Peering still into the darkness I see what I had been looking for. How did I extricate myself? He had given me enough.
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