Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Writer's Challenge (NOT the FaithWriters Challenge) (06/10/10)
By Joanna Stricker
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She was familiar with darkness. Blindness had been her life’s reality until surgery a year ago. The procedure had been marvelously successful. Her “new” eyes opened, and she could see. The advent of eyesight threw her life onto a different path. She’d learned to read, discovered new relationships, and explored the world. She’d hiked mountains, kayaked on the sea, camped under stars and traveled to Europe. Two months ago she’d returned home determined to settle down and find a purpose in life.
She hadn’t found it.
Deep inside she knew the problem was with her. She hadn’t been able to find the limited, but happy, woman she had once been. She felt constantly vexed with life: her family, responsibilities, and restrictions of living in her childhood home. Once it was assumed that her father would provide for her. Now it was her responsibility to choose a path wisely be it career, school, or family.
Before the surgery, she had loved to write. She hadn’t written since. The pressure to write had been steadily increasing. A week ago she spent an entire morning trying, without success. Her mind was blank. The vivid imagery her writing was famous for had disappeared. It was like the ability to see, to know what colors and forms of life were, had caused her imagination to hide, and she had been unable to find it. She tried recalling all the advice she had ever been given, but nothing worked. She finally gave up and was leaving when her mother stopped her at the back door.
“Rachel, perhaps you should write. It used to make you feel better.” Instantly Rachael felt irritation but shook it off. It wasn’t her mother’s fault that Rachael couldn’t write and felt like a failure. She’d mumbled something about going for a walk and fled out the door.
Ten minutes later she’d stood on the bridge’s edge and known she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t jump and leave her parents with the pain. She stood there for long seconds, her keen ears picking up every sound: the crickets in the field, the gurgling river below, the singing birds and a train sounding in the distance. Tears clouded her eyes and she asked for one sign—a reason to go on. As she asked, she acknowledged that she hadn’t spoken to God for a long time. It was as if she had lost her inward sight at the same time as she gained her physical sight.
After the simple prayer, she’d returned home, completed a college application and, not having her license yet, boarded the train to visit her grandparents.
Her mother had almost come with her. As Rachel heard the cries around her, she thanked God that her mother had not been in this disaster. Her selfishness caught at her heart. She could hear a child crying—over a mother whose voice had gotten quieter and quieter.
“Lord, help. You see us and you know our pain…” Rachel was surprised at the calmness of the words, and she didn’t stop those that followed. Her words flowed with an ease she had not experienced since the surgery. She felt a Presence that her spirit had been longing for. God was here, in the darkness.
Slowly the noises around quieted. When she paused, a soft request came from the darkness, “Don’t stop.” She continued, softer now. Her senses attuned to the Spirit’s work in those listening. Here and there, other prayers began. Some pleas were for God’s forgiveness; some for families; some for rescue. Rachel knew beyond a shadow of doubt that all were being heard—because He was there.
She could feel herself getting sleepy even as her eyes were beginning to catch the sight of red and orange lights glimmering around the wreck. Somehow she knew, if she ever had the honor to write again, it would be to “see” this—to somehow, in words given from heaven, to make a difference, to show the world the Light that pierces every darkness.
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