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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Gifts (of the Spirit or service) (11/22/07)

TITLE: Raveling Garment
By Noreen Ophoff


Depression hung on Diane like a familiar garment. Poking around a consignment shop, she came to a hand-painted wooden box, with correspondence inside, yellowed with age. Settling into a blue wool wingchair next to the store’s picture window, she began reading the dog-eared notes.

“Dear Diane”, the first letter began. She smiled to think it was her very own name. “I know you are saddened right now, things not working out as expected. Look for the sunny side. Are you wearing red today? It is the color of vibrant life. Love, Your Secret Pal”

Diane felt a peculiar warmth all over, just from reading these words. The letter could have been written for her life right now. Thumbing through the stack, she opened one in blue snowflake paper.

“Dear Long Time Friend, I miss you. Remember how we used to draw pictures of flowers? I still have one of your watercolors in my study. Yes, I have a study. We always dreamed of having big mansions. I have a cozy kitchen where I bake oatmeal cookies –- I still love them. My neighbor, Martha, comes every Tuesday for hot chocolate and cookies. We talk about her daughter, Beth, in a nursing home since a car accident. Martha goes every Monday to wheel her around the facility while singing together. Love, PAL”

The wing chair was a comfy place for pondering. A picture on the wall of a campsite reminded this melancholy woman of campfires with 4-H club members, singing vespers songs in a grove of pine trees. She remembered how much she loved teaching little girls to make radish roses. carrot curls and cakes in the shape of snowmen.

The owner of the shop disturbed Diane’s faraway thoughts, embarrassing her. The proprietor said, “Oh, don’t stir, you look so pretty sitting there.”

Diane asked, “Do you know this box has old letters in it?”

“Really? I had no idea – well, I guess they come together.” Replied the woman in the calico dress, “Its from an estate sale. I just bought everything.”

Lifting another note, the scent of lavender exploded, dried petals drifting out of the wrapper. It read, “Dear One, My sweet hubby passed on today. Sorrow envelopes me, yet I went to the garden to pick lavender blossoms, their fragrance took me to bygone days when you and I ran carefree through Johnnie’s meadow. Do you remember?”

Diane bolted upright. She knew Johnnie’s meadow, it was just down the road from her bungalow home. It was a beautiful place with a little stream wending through. Tucking the letters back inside, scooping up the box, she paid the $27.00 for her treasure, hurrying out. She drove straight to the meadow. The crimson poppies and vibrant blue bachelor buttons filled her heart with life again.

She realized her mind had been taking inventory while she read the contents of the box. It was like an tabulation of gifts she shared with the writer. She also liked to send uplifting notes to folks who were down, as she felt now, overwhelmed by decisions that weren’t working out as outlined in her life plan.

Diane Jesse also once dabbled in water colors and again the urge overcame her. She would do that too, she could paint the flowers at the creekbed, or trees swaying in a howling wind. Realizing she hadn’t been using her leadership abilities, she vowed to call the local 4-H office and begin again with a small group of girls who wanted to learn to do fun things in the kitchen. Yes, this would bring her out of her depression, reaching out to someone else, that would bring a thread of happiness into her heart again.

The garment of depression would fray and ravel as she invigorated the talents she’d put away, for far too long. She was an encourager, she did enjoy practicing hospitality. Leadership and organization were strong points within her character. She felt compassion for down-trodden folks in life, and creativity, that mainstay in her work, was rekindled because of a hand-painted box with a treasure trove of love.

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This article has been read 428 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Wistrom11/29/07
Your title drew me in and your opening sentence cinched the deal. This was a wonderfully thought out story.
Very creative, thanks.
Yvonne Blake 11/30/07
What a great way to show a point of view! I like the idea of a box of letters.
Jan Ackerson 11/30/07
I really like your recurring metaphor of depression as a garment. Perfect.

The first part of this story really engaged me with a real sense of "being there" with Diane...toward the end, it may have fizzled a bit, as the "showing" became "telling."

Finding those letters was definitely a gift, and I liked the way they touched Diane's heart.
Joy Faire Stewart11/30/07
Love the idea of the letters. I was drawn into the story and enjoyed the ending. Great job!
Emily Gibson12/01/07
I too have felt touched by some long ago messenger who never could have known his/her reach into the future. I truly identified with this story, so very well done.