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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Singing (10/31/05)

TITLE: Bonny and The Good Shepherd
By Denise Stanford


Bonny decided she had done enough Christmas shopping for today. Beneath the domed glass ceiling of the shopping mall she found a bench and sat down to rest. Her pain intensified. All she had managed to buy were two gifts, ‘How has it come to this?’

The changes had been subtle at first; aches, pains and fatigue then clumsiness and a stumble or two. At the gym she had hoped to regain strength and vigour but it made things worse. Two years later doctors gave her the vague diagnosis she still found so hard to accept.

It had meant many changes some harder to accept than others. She had wept when buying a wheelchair, but wished she had used it today. The Christmas shoppers surged on through the mall. A group of carol singers made their way to a small dais. They reminded her of the hardest change of all; she could no longer dance or sing.

It had been a shock to find the weakness was not confined to her limbs. She would choke now and then having trouble swallowing and breathing at times; now singing made all of those symptoms much worse.

Bonny was told often at church that she had a lovely voice and singing for God was what she loved best. It was how she praised Him. Even at home, cooking she’d sing the ‘wrong’ words to popular songs so she could Praise God, the boys as sulky teens would scold her.

The Carol singers were ready now; dressed in red and white choir robes they looked timeless. One small child concentrated hard as she produced delightful pure notes.

It was like seeing herself years before.

“The Cathedral?” her mother had questioned, “on Christmas Night?” the small girl before her nodded unaware of the significance.

“She said to be there an hour before” the child added. Bonny had learned not to argue, her mother was most insistent about this, reinforcing it with a slap if necessary.

“Well we’ll see about that,” this woman didn’t appreciate the achievements of her children as anything worth celebrating. She bundled Bonny into the cathedral with only minutes to spare before the service.

Bonny was led away to the vestry and robed. A forest of people rose as the organ music swelled, filling this enormous church for the processional. She gazed at the towering Christmas tree decorated with spun glass orbs and lights. It held her attention until it was her time to stand and sing. Would anyone hear?

Hundreds of people settled, the organ stopped, candles quavered. Bonny couldn’t look at faces, she chose instead to look up at a window; lit from outside it held the image of the Good Shepherd. His gentleness reached down to her, and she sang to Him. Her voice was not her own at that moment. It climbed to the heights, rebounding off carved sandstone cherubs, vaulted oak and polished marble. It swelled and surprised her with sweet clarity when it came back to her own ears.

There was no applause no accolades none expected, the service swept on: but the Good Shepherd smiled down at her and she knew she had done a good thing for God.

The following autumn the seven year old contracted Polio. Forty seven years ago Bonny had been seriously ill, but fought back, eventually recovering completely. Her mother made sure it was never spoken of again. Like many survivors Bonny had gone on to live a normal life, marry a wonderful man, have the boys, a career and serve at church. She had been blessed in so many ways.

Now the weakness caused by Polio had re-emerged, Post Polio Syndrome some called it: with God’s help she would deal with whatever came with it.

With great difficulty Bonny rose from the bench and rejoined the crowd. Making her way back to the car she knew the Good Shepherd was with her, this affliction had not come from Him.
‘We are all broken bodies in a broken world. So what if I can’t sing, so what if I can’t praise you in the same old ways… teach me new ways Lord, grow in me the Fruit your Spirit brings. I’m not finished yet.’

There was no applause no accolades none expected, the shoppers swept on: but the Good Shepherd smiled down at her and she knew she was doing her best for Him.

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This article has been read 801 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dan Louise Mann11/07/05
Great piece. I think it is one of the top 5 this week. I like how you tied in the Good Shepherd from earlier in her life to the present.
Jan Ackerson 11/07/05
I loved that she prayed for new ways to praise. Very nice!
terri tiffany11/08/05
This was so good!I like a 'forest of people'. You blended this so nicely all the way through. Excellent.
Jeffrey Snell11/09/05
*whew* You gave me a lump in my throat...wow. Thank you for writing this. Wonderfully emotive description of Bonny's thoughts and dreams. The scene with little Bonny at the stained glass gave me chills. Awesome!
Sally Hanan11/09/05
A very nice read and a good wrap up ending.
Brandi Roberts11/09/05
Very well written, just a few missed spots for punctuation. I really enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing!
Cassie Memmer11/09/05
A good reminder - no matter the circumstances, He is worthy to be praised! Good story, well done.
Debbie Sickler11/09/05
Good job! I liked how you said that she changed words of pop songs, I do that too sometimes. :) I also liked how you didn't let on about polio until the end.
Suzanne R11/10/05
"So what if I can’t sing, so what if I can’t praise you in the same old ways… teach me new ways Lord, grow in me the Fruit your Spirit brings." Ooh ... this gives me goose-bumps. I can see one way Bonny can praise her Good Shepherd ... couldn't be clearer in fact. (Of course, I mean through writing.)

I too really like the way you flashed back, used that beautiful imagery of the window of the good Shepherd and then tied it in at the end.
Shari Armstrong 11/10/05
I loved this. I was the Brass Choir in college and we played for church services (my Easter entry talks about one of the trips to DC to the National Cathedral). The director of the group had polio as a chlld and it affected his back (crooked). He was in pain most of the time, but still put his all into our group until hre retired.
Anita Neuman11/10/05
Wow! This is a GREAT story! I love how you tied it all together at the end. Simply beautiful!!!
Sherry Castelluccio 11/11/05
Very well written. Great story.
Julianne Jones11/11/05
I don't know how much of this is based on real life and how much is 'artistic license', but what I do know is that your written words are bring praise to Him. I loved the pictures you drew and the way you tied it all in together. Look out Level 2! Well done.
Val Clark11/12/05
I'm with JoJo! Deni, well done. You have crafted your character so well that I can really identify with her. To not be able to sing! What a bitter pill to swallow! And yet she does and grows from it and with it. She’s not finished yet! She soldiers on. Thanks. Yeggy
Marilyn Schnepp 12/10/05
The last paragraph - "There was no praise, no accolades";
but she wasn't paranoid...
...the Good Shepherd knew she had done her best.