Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)
TITLE: Glen Gooding
By Frank Parrino
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Glen Gooding loved the stars. Tonight proved to be in the words of stargazer jargon a night of exceptional seeing. The wonders woven into the celestial tapestry displayed a rare clarity and sharpness that is coveted by amateur and professional astronomers alike. Glen packed up his trusty telescope after four hours of jaw dropping observations. As dawn was about to break, he took one last glimpse at the fading starry host. As was his custom, Glen recited the first six verses of the nineteenth psalm, then walked slowly down the old mountain road musing.
This remarkable night reminded Glen of that momentous day on his grand parent’s farm. That day saw summer pass the seasonal torch unto autumn which was eager to exhibit its spectacular showcase. It was 40 years ago to the day that Glen Gooding made his maiden journey to the stars.
Dad took him on a night time hike. Armed with flash lights, father and son started out on the narrow dirt road adjacent to the farmhouse. The hills to their right were cloaked in a sea of darkness. A low stone fence lined the road on their left separating the equally shrouded woods. Far from the glare of city lights the dark country night had an eerie feeling to it. As the stone fence came to an end the explorers found themselves in a large clearing. Glen felt something like an invisible barrier stop him in his tracks. He looked up. Mesmerized is how he recalled his first real look at the wonderful wonders of the heavens. That moment launched Glen on his personal star trek.
His young eyes followed the star dust glitter of the Milky Way meandering along the heavens like a lazy flowing woodland stream. The stars resembled various sized and colored jewels sprinkled along the banks of the milky tributary. A meteor so dubbed by more seasoned astronomical advocates as a “shooting star” made a quick fiery burst only to be swallowed by the black vastness of the night. Jupiter the king of the planets cast a steady beacon as he received accolades from the throng of starry subjects. The awesomeness of the night sky was forever imprinted on Glen Gooding’s mind.
Next morning at breakfast, Glen asked his dad for a telescope. Mr. Gooding remained silent for a few minutes. He knew his son was serious about stargazing. He was glad to see Glen take an interest in God’s creation. In his deliberate yet upbeat voice, Glen’s dad said, “Tell you what son. If you can improve your math grades and do some extra errands for mom, then I’ll buy you a telescope.” To the more discerning observers of human parenting, there is nothing better than motivating children within the framework of responsibility and accountability.
Glen was excited. Each night Glen put extra effort into learning his math. On Saturdays he would walk to the library. There the newly christened stargazer soaked in as much about the universe as he could in his allotted hour.
Three months passed. His teacher asked to see him after class one Friday afternoon. He walked softly up to the desk. In an equally soft voice Glen asked, “You wanted to see me Mrs. Betts?” With an expression half serious and half pleasing, Mrs. Betts shook her pencil at nervous Glen. From the serious side she said, “Glen! I thought you said you couldn’t do math?” Glen was speechless. Did he make some improvement? If so, would it be good enough to satisfy dad? From the pleasant side, Mrs. Betts gave Glen the glad tidings. “You went from a 75 to a 92! See, you can do math. I am proud of you. Keep up the good work and don’t be surprised. Glen thought, “Surprised by what?”
Thanking Mrs. Betts, Glen made the fifteen minute walk home in record time. He raced up the stairs ready to announce the good news when he was again stopped in his tracks by an invisible barrier. His eye espied a long white tube sitting on a wood tripod. Standing tall in the family room was the telescope his dad promised to buy him.
As he came to the bottom of the hill Glen stopped and smiled. He looked up to heaven with happy tears blurring his starry eyes. “Thanks again dad for encouraging me to do and be the best I can and for keeping your promise.” The stars nodded their smiling approval.
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