Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Astonishment (02/02/12)
TITLE: Joy Beyond Compare
By Michelle Meyers
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Now as I step from the well-worn road, into the clearing, I am astonished as what lies before me, and I enter with careful steps. Hundreds upon hundreds of others are already gathered here, and I briefly wonder if they found the road here to be difficult too. But there is little time to ponder this as I am swept up in the all-encompassing beauty that is slowly immersing me in a joy beyond compare.
The sky above me is a dazzling shade of cerulean blue, with touches of purple that hint at a setting sun. The dense trees around the edges of the clearing seem to reach up as if to touch the lovely sky and they fill the landscape in untold number. Snowcapped mountains rise in the distance, the descending sun embracing them in rich shadows. As I stretch on tiptoe, I glimpse a pure stream running into the clearing, its origin, no doubt, high in the mountains.
My focus shifts to the seemingly endless wave of humanity around me. Everyone is clothed in simple, delicate white gowns that appear so minimal yet cover completely. I smile as I look down and see my toes peeking out from the same garment. I scan the faces of the people nearby, almost all seem familiar although I cannot place them, and there are only smiles and eyes lit up with the relief of burdens laid down.
I begin to move through the crowd, instinctively knowing there is nothing to fear. Occasionally I feel a gentle pat on my shoulder, a warm hand that briefly holds mine in a gesture of welcome. I realize I am making my way down a slope along with the others. Soon we arrive at a spot where an altar stands at the edge of the clearing, with the trickling water of the crystalline stream on the left and the dense forest extending beyond. I turn to look and see that the crowd has followed, the faces going on forever. But despite the mass of people, the air is permeated with warmth and gentleness.
A soft hum is growing from the far reaches of the gathering and I soon realize it is a song but one unlike any I have heard before. Somehow my own voice joins with the others singing this song which is all at once new and as old as the trees themselves.
A flash of blinding yet beautiful light encompasses the crowd, dropping us to our knees. My heart is racing as I fix my stare on the green grass beneath me.
Astonishment falls over the crowd and our voices fall silent. I then hear a voice that speaks to us with strength and compassion and I know without an ounce of hesitation whose voice this is, as I have heard this same voice many times on the road, as familiar to me as my own face in the mirror. The voice that encouraged me and gently corrected me as I made my way down the path. The voice I turned to in despair or that I thanked in endless gratitude. That same voice now surrounds me with a depth and richness, and a peace which I have never fully known springs forth from my very core.
A smile takes over my face and tears run down my cheeks as I realize I have made it home.
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