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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: White (10/29/09)

TITLE: The Chapel and the Cathedral
By Alwine Canning


Rebecca loved taking these buckboard wagon trips with her father from Bodie to Benton. No chores for her on those days! Somehow the campfires and cookouts along the way didnít feel like work.

This was their autumn trip to stock up on supplies to get their family through the winter. She was the eldest of the four sisters. So she had the privilege of taking these trips while her siblings stayed back to help her mother out at home.

Most of the men from Bodie were busy working for the gold mine bought by the Standard Company two years before in 1877. Her father liked to say he was a miner for spiritual gold. He was the Methodist pastor and she was proud of his work. She loved the white-washed chapel that housed their church with its bell tower and steeple. Most of her friends and many of the town folk came to worship there.

Yesterday there had been a deep chill in the air, but today it was much milder. She enjoyed this time of year the best. The high mountain meadows came alive with color. The summer scorched grasses revealed their cinnamon hews. Smaller, short patches of grass turned rusty red amongst the taller grasses and windswept sea of grey green sagebrush.

Their road meandered along a rivulet of an icy-edged creek. It gurgled merrily through the rocky meadow fed by the run-off of the snow dusted mountains beyond. As they passed the evergreen forested foothills, the frigid creek supported river birch trees with their slender white grey-flecked trunks and silvery splayed branches. Though their green silver-dollar sized leaves were interspersed with the yellow, orange and gold of fall, they appeared to be a blinding white against the shadows as gusts of wind caused them to quake in the slanting rays of sunlight. Pale yellow-green lichen formed their wooly coats on the north sides of their tree trunks and on the many craggy up-croppings of granite.

As they moved south, the alkaline Mono Lake gradually came into view with its white-capped, windswept surface above its shallow aquamarine to deep navy blue waters. With the recent snow flurries it was unclear where the alkali beds stopped and the snow patches started. Most of the yellow flower clusters on the meadow bushes leading up to the lake had been chilled into ivory-crowned clusters all crowded together dancing in the ever-present wind.

Looking further west, below the bright blue autumn sky, there was a break in the overwhelmingly granite mountains. A shale cliff gleamed slimy wet as the snow melted down its rust, gold and black face. A red-tailed hawk screeched as it dropped from the cliff toward some prey below.

It all was so breathtaking. As grey-bellied clouds settled on top of the majestic snow-patched mountain peaks, she thought of the Bible stories of how God called Moses to go up on Mt. Sinai and then descended on the mountain in a cloud. The thought caused an awe to fall upon her. It made her want to worship her mysterious God in a new way. She bowed her head for a moment as tears came to her eyes and she was overwhelmed. It was too personal of a moment. She didnít want her father to see.

She suddenly knew that her worship in their white-washed chapel would be different from now on. Though she knew those gatherings with her friends and family would always remain meaningful to her, the majesty of these mountains and the magnificent beauty of creation formed the image of a huge cathedral in her mind and it struck her in a way that raised her soul to a new height.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 11/10/09
Beautifully descriptive work, without the pictures interfering with the flow of your story. Well done