Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: Ruby's Rescue
By Beth Muehlhausen
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Ruby lived in the valley of Apathy amidst depression and stagnation. She often longed to visit the nearby mountain named Love and wondered if life might be different there.
“Don’t even think about it,” her mother scowled. “People die trying to conquer that mountain.”
Despite this warning, Love haunted Ruby’s dreams. Was her own mother deceived? Did she know the truth? Did the mountain know?
One night around midnight a Presence urged Ruby to get out of bed. She rose cautiously so the broken springs wouldn’t squeak, pulled on her frayed jeans and sweat-stained t-shirt, and tiptoed down the stairs.
Crickets and cicadas announced her escape as she emerged into the night through the creaky back door. “You’re running away, away, away, away…” they shouted in unison. “Hooray, ray, ray, ray, ray…”
They ignored the reprimand while Ruby laboriously crawled through the overgrown weeds and brush surrounding her house. The full moon ushered her quickly down an obscure gravel road to a sign: “You are now entering the valley of Pride.”
“So that’s what lies beyond Apathy…Pride!” she exclaimed between panting breaths. “I must go there; someone may know how to explore the mountain.”
Early the next morning she ambled into a town called Arrogance where pedestrians appeared cold and distant. Ruby mustered enough courage to approach a tight-lipped woman wearing glittery fingernail polish, tight designer jeans and dark sunglasses. “Where can I get something to eat, please m’am…I’m really tired and hungry.”
The woman frowned and stared at her blankly over the tops of her glasses. “You don’t belong here.”
“You’re right, I came from the neighboring valley of Apathy. But I want so much to climb the mountain. Does anyone in the valley of Pride ever climb the mountain of Love?”
The woman glared over the top of her glasses. “Of course not! That mountain is impassible…stupid girl. You’d be smart to keep going…that way, over there.”
She gestured toward a narrow walking path, clicked the sidewalk with her spiked heels, hopped into her sports car and zoomed away.
The path was choked with wild raspberry canes. Thorns scratched Ruby’s arms and tore her bare feet. “Why is this so hard?” she cried to the oaks towering above.
“Persistence, persistence,” their wind-tossed leaves whispered in return.
Ruby consumed handfuls of raspberries while making her way along the overgrown path. After several hours she discovered a sheltered spot beneath an overhanging rock. Here she slept fitfully for what seemed an eternity of nightmare-tossed hours.
The next morning Ruby pushed on, groggy and stricken with deepening anxieties. Eventually the dirt path began to widen; trees thinned and the barren valley of Despair opened before her.
What was that drone in the distance…an agonized chorus? And who was that twisted figure hobbling toward her? The Spirit of Fear?
“Is that the sound of weeping?” Ruby asked as the gloomy form drew close.
His gnarled frame bent sideways; a steely eye flashed. “You’ve found the place for hopeless people. The valley of Despair is the…well, the end of the road. You’ll find lots of company in this valley, missy. Misery loves company.”
Ruby watched the crippled form shuffle away before burying her head in her hands. “I can’t stay here! God! If the mountain is an option to all of this, please take me there!”
Her sobs diminished and she opened her eyes just as a beam of Light streamed from the clouds overhead. The same comfortable Presence seemed to speak: “Come, follow Me.”
Ruby brushed the dirt from her jeans and walked into the Light…then advanced as if carried by the wind toward the mountain of Love. As she began to climb, her unshod feet glided powerfully over fields of sharp rocks and craggy ledges crowded with stunted trees. She pulled with arms rivaling those of trained mountain climbers.
Eventually she found herself standing, breathless, in a high, grassy meadow dotted with delicate alpine flowers. A gentle breeze bathed her triumphant face; a babbling stream offered refreshment.
“How can this be?” she murmured, remembering the ugliness of the valleys.
The Master’s voice spoke to Ruby’s heart. “I enabled you, Ruby. Will you submit to Me now - so we can explore life here on the mountain of Love as well as the surrounding peaks called Faith and Hope?”
Ruby recognized the three valleys far below: Apathy, Pride, and Despair. She turned her face to the sky and opened her arms in an embrace: “Lord, I surrender all…to You!”
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