Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Rest (01/17/13)
TITLE: Please Bring Peace
By Emily Ritter
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“God can heal this somehow,” I said, and immediately regretted the message. What can be said to a person who has endured such tragedy? I had wanted to encourage him to rest in the reality of God, a reality I know he had encountered in college, but drifted from when he met and married his wife.
The sight of him worshiping God at college was stunning. I can picture him now—the bad boy from our high school, the one who used to sneak fellow 17-year-olds (of the female persuasion) up to the catwalk to indulge in the type of physical quieting that comes after fast beating hearts and missing clothes—kneeling at my window, openly acknowledging God in front of me and my roommate, as he prepared to make a bed on the floor.
He had always been attractive and mysterious, but in the way that would lead a rule-follower (like myself) down a path to suspension. But now his mystery hung in the warmth of his smile. The way he seemed to feel deep satisfaction from simple laughter with a friend. He masterfully witnessed the reality of God’s personhood to me (an agnostic) just in the peacefulness of his demeanor as he emerged from silent prayer, and his boldness to do something odd, to interrupt the normal flow of the evening, kneel, with everyone staring; he wasn’t going to miss meeting with his God. And the richness of his commitment was something I couldn’t get close enough to. I wanted more.
As I facbooked him that night, desperate to remind him of the peace he had once bowed and received, I prayed for God to help me not belittle his inconceivable pain. At his brother’s funeral I stopped moving, breathing, and blinking as I noticed his refusal to participate in the receiving line. The frigidity flooded my body as if I were slowly dipped in a murky cold lake. My brain stopped; my breath stopped, to make room for his pain.
I found him outside smoking with friends, and wanted to hug him. I wanted to hold him so badly, the way I had when we danced and sang in my dorm room. But his retreat was too evident to approach. It was as if he were standing on a different planet from me.
To this day, three years later, I still wonder how he eats an orange for breakfast, puts his shoes on and heads for work, knowing that his brother fell to his death on purpose, leaving a note of explanation. I guess life continues. We keep noticing the rise and fall of inhalation on our own chests; we keep grudgingly falling to sleep, and filling our mouths with perishable delicacies. Somehow God can heal this. Somehow.
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