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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Digital Detox (04/24/14)

TITLE: Brainwash
By Milly Born


Sunlight filters through bright green spring leaves and tenderly illuminates my favorite place beside the stream. Sitting on a stone, I close my eyes and relax.

A breeze caresses my face and carries the scent of fertile soil. I inhale deeply.

The water murmurs a happy song that clears my mind and refreshes my soul.

How fitting that God uses clean, running water as the image of purification.

When I hear gurgling laughs mingle with the music of the whirling water, I awaken from my reveries. Upstream are about ten children and the pastor of the church they belong to; they have come for a day to our house in the countryside.

City children.

I guess they’re between six and fourteen years old. Perhaps the closest they have ever come to streaming is the downloading of images from the Internet to their tablet through a Wi-Fi connection while they watch an online film.

Digital generation children.

Ten minutes ago, just after we arrived in the gorge, the older kids complained that their smartphones didn’t pick up the mobile network signal. I notice they’re now chatting with each other instead of with some distant friend through Facebook.

The smaller children, insecure at first, enthusiastically explore their new environment. Little fingers, trained to manipulate keyboards and touch screens, dive deep into the wet clay and mold grey blobs. Hands, used to holding game boys and joysticks, pick up stones and build a dam. Ears, unplugged from MP3 players, register splashes and gushing water. Eyes that normally cling to TVs and computers follow the course of a floating stick that is searching its winding way between the rocks.

Running along the banks, sprinkling one another, they scream and laugh. Some boys try to follow the water downstream as far as possible, jumping from stone to stone, occasionally stepping into the shallow water. A few girls, huddling together, hold their hands under a mini waterfall, and share their awe of the never-ending flow of clear water.

Cloths are smudged, eyes light up. Barbie shoes are beyond recognition, cheeks glow pink.

When it is time to leave, the pastor reminds the children to rinse their hands. I get up to join them. One of the smallest girls stands on the other side of the stream and stretches out her hands, dripping with mud. She seems desperate.

I look at her, concerned. “What’s the problem, honey?”

She doesn’t answer, but looks at her dirty hands, then at the water she can’t reach.

“Would you like me to help you?”

She nods.

I stand on a rock in the middle of the stream, in front of her, and take hands full of fresh water to clean hers. Scoop after scoop, I wash away the mud from her pulses, her palms, her fingers, the edges of her nails. While washing her, I say a silent prayer.

Please, Lord, let this visit become a vivid memory of living water that cleanses these children’s heads from the digital flow they dive into every day. Not just their hands, Lord, but their minds. Let their minds be purified.

I lift my eyes from the girl’s hands to look at her face. She smiles and, with a spring in her step, rejoins her friends.

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This article has been read 246 times
Member Comments
Member Date
George Parler 05/02/14
Your words painted vivid pictures of the setting - the stream, sunlight through the leaves, etc. You definitely captured the topic well. I did find myself looking for the reason you were at the gorge. Who were the kids in relation to you? Which became clearer towards the last third of the article. I personally found it a bit distracting on the front end. It may just be my tastes, but I also realized sometimes 750 words aren't enough to convey everything we want. Given your ability to paint great word pictures I have a feeling you will climb Challenge ladder rather quickly. Nice job overall. Keep writing. :-)
Joe Moreland05/02/14
The flow of your words in this piece were as smooth as the flow of water you describe in the stream. And like the stream flowing gently through the countryside, so too did your story flow seamlessly to the prayerful end.

Very nice job.
Joe Moreland05/02/14
The flow of your words in this piece were as smooth as the flow of water you describe in the stream. And like the stream flowing gently through the countryside, so too did your story flow seamlessly to the prayerful end.

Very nice job.
Marty Wellington 05/02/14
Very visual and feeling piece. The water analogy related to cleansing felt the topic well. Nicely done!
C D Swanson 05/03/14
Excellent message within this well written piece that cascades with beautiful imagery...Fantastic job. I especially appreciated the loving prayer that went up to our Father.

So good!

God bless~
Graham Insley05/04/14
An awesome article that has some very valid points. Also very well written.

For me, and it may just be me, I stumbled in the first few paragraphs. The intro seemed to indicate someone in private time in a private place who was suddenly disturbed by others arriving on the scene. But then, in para nine, it appears they all came here together which made me go "Hang on a minute, what this?"

Perhaps para five could start off, "This is my favorite place and today I am sharing it with..."

I felt your message was excellent and I loved the idea of 'city kids', hooked on digital entertainment, getting sensory input from nature.

Larry Whittington05/04/14
I enjoyed the setting of this story.

There didn't have to be much "conversation" to make the story come alive. The action and narration said it all.

Nice work.
Joanne Sher 05/05/14
This is absolutely gorgeous writing. Vivid painted pictures you give. And your title is perfect. You absolutely transported me to that stream with those kids.

I really, REALLY can't say enough about how much I loved this. Beautiful.
Mar  05/07/14
Lovely writing! Enjoyed this very much!
Milly Born 05/08/14
I'm happy with the encouragements in the comments and my second place! Special thanks to my great buddies Virginia Bliss and Koos Stenger.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/08/14
Congratulations on ranking 2nd in your level and 17 overall! The highest rankings can be found on the message boards.