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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: A Bouquet of Solace
By Seema Bagai
11/14/07


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Darkness surrounded me. With each shallow breath, I inhaled stale, dust-clogged air. I crouched against the dirt wall of the trench, legs pressed against my chest. Tangled thoughts wove deceitful webs within me. Still soaked from the recent rainstorm, I squirmed in a futile attempt to find comfort.

Time had become a haze while I existed in this trench. Everything became jumbled together in the enveloping fog. Terrified, I imagined being trapped in this gloom forever.

In the silence, I tried to pray. A solitary word slipped from my lips.

“Jesus.”

I hugged my knees, too numb to cry.

“Leah, it’s Azalea.”

Her whisper startled me. Azalea climbed down into the trench and sat beside me. Her presence eased the isolation that threatened to engulf me. While words remained muffled within my misery, Azalea held my hands and prayed for peace to permeate the darkness.

Prior to leaving, she retrieved my cell phone, turned it on, and handed it to me. The screen’s soft glow provided a faint light. I scrolled through the names, and decided talking required too much effort.

“Ting. Ting.” The phone chimed the arrival of a text message from Violet.

“Praying for you.”

“Thanks.”

Exhausted, I leaned back against the wall. My eyes, heavy with the sleep that seemed elusive, stared blankly into the gloom.

“Leah, have you eaten anything?” Daisy’s cheerful voice permeated the silence.

“No. Everything tastes like cardboard,” I mumbled.

“Here, I brought you a chocolate shake. Your favorite.”

I reached up and accepted the cup. The first sweet sip slid down my parched throat. I tried a few more sips and felt the icy liquid settle in my knotted stomach.

“I’d forgotten how good these taste. Thanks, Daisy.”

“I’m praying for you,” she called out as she left.

Before I could finish the shake, I spotted a light overhead. I craned my neck to see Iris smiling down at me. In her musical voice, she read from the Psalms. At first, the words reverberated around me. Slowly, phrases of comfort seeped into my mind. She prayed and handed me the flashlight and Bible.

“I’ll visit again later. Read the passage I marked. Remember, God’s word never fails.”

I picked up the phone and hit seven on speed dial. Lily listened while I attempted to articulate my distress. Somehow, through my senseless rambling, she understood my anguish over being smothered by darkness. Her rational words shredded the muddled lies inside my mind.

Soon after our conversation ended, Jasmine stopped by with her MP3 player.

“I downloaded some of your favorite songs. Just listen to the lyrics and stop listening to the words in your head. God is closer than you realize.”

Sighing, I slipped on the headphone. Music saturated my mind and soothed my aching heart. I switched on the flashlight and opened the Bible to the place Iris had marked.

“The LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.” (Isaiah 60:20, NIV).

Aiming the flashlight toward the wall, I spotted a ladder. Gazing upward, I glimpsed sheer streams of light shimmering in the receding fog. Strengthened by prayers and encouragement, I pulled myself up off the dirt, grasped the sides of the ladder, and climbed out of the trench.

On legs stiffened from being compressed, I took a few tentative steps forward. Sunlight embraced me and dried the dampness clinging to my clothes. The fresh fragrance of flowers and the melody of chirping birds filled the air. Squinting in the light, I stumbled over to the fountain and rested on the edge. I reached out, filled my hands with the cold, flowing water, and drank.

“Leah, how are you doing?”

I looked up. Rose strode toward me. “I’ve been worried about you and I’ve been praying for you every day.” She sat down and wrapped her arms around me. The despair I felt while in the trench began to wash away in a cascade of tears. As I sobbed, Rose prayed.

“Holy Spirit, Leah is hurting. Have mercy on her. Fill her with your presence and comfort. Protect her from falling back into the pit she was in. Father, show her that You are always beside her. Carry her through this difficult time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Wiping my eyes, I took a deep breath and relaxed. Bowing my head, I prayed.

Lord, thank you for sending me this bouquet of solace to brighten the darkness.


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This article has been read 896 times
Member Comments
Member Date
william price11/16/07
Now I liked this. Flashes of brillant writing, masterful at times. Keep up the inspiring work. God bless.
Joanne Sher 11/17/07
Perfect title - and I love the character names, and how each ministered in a different way. Very creative.
Beth LaBuff 11/18/07
Very well written entry with a creative use of names. You have a lot of writing talent.
Leigh MacKelvey11/19/07
This was such a creative take on depression! You wove a story about the deep, darknesss of the soul very subtly, but very realistic. I think this is amazing! I especially liked the analogy of the MC being in a trench and her freinds climbing down in with her in order to encourage. A truthful analogy!
Deborah Engle 11/19/07
I felt I was in the trench with your MC, and was very glad when we were able to climb out. Your encouragers were wonderful!
Jan Ackerson 11/19/07
Your first paragraph is a perfect, perfect description of depression, and the whole allegory is very well done.
Patty Wysong11/19/07
Beautiful. I loved how you used the flower names for all the different encouragers--it helped keep them straight and provided the analogy too. Your descriptions make this very vivid--I could feel the cramped dampness. Great job!! Hugs!
Sheri Gordon11/19/07
This is beautiful. I was feeling every hopeless thought with you. And your imagery of coming out of the pit was wonderful. Great job with the topic.
Dee Yoder 11/20/07
This reminds me of my favorite Psalm: "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire..."

Really good descriptions and analogies in this entry! I love the friends, like the beauty of fresh and colorful flowers, coming and bringing a little spark of life with each visit. Beautiful!
Laury Hubrich 11/21/07
This was a wonderful read! I've been in that trench many times and have had friends help pull me out. Thank you so very much for sharing this bouquet of solace with us!
Laury
Pam Carlson-Hetland11/21/07
What an absolutely amazing story of encouragement by friends to someone in the depth of depression. Great job!
Sara Harricharan 11/21/07
Oh I do like this! I felt as if I were right there along with her and watching as her friends came and surrounded her, lifting her up in every way they could. The flower names were just great. Wonderful writing!
Loren T. Lowery11/21/07
Your use of imagery with the flowers is truly inspired and the story itself is masterful. Wonderful, wonderful job!
Rita Garcia11/21/07
I know that trench! I am so thankful for those who allow God to use them to minister to others. WOW! MASTER WRITING!!
Betty Castleberry11/21/07
I love that you used a real tench to illustrate what your MC was feeling. This was so well written, too. Good work.
LaNaye Perkins11/21/07
Wow, you did an awesome job of describing how depression feels. You also did an excellent job of expressing how helpful an encouraging word or deed is. Well done!
Kristen Hester11/22/07
Wow, this is very powerful. I have to admit I was confused at first (groggy mind...it's early) and thought she was in a REAL trench. Once I "got it", I was like "Ohhhhhh. Ahhhhh." What a vivid description. Excellent writing. You're on your way up, up, up!
Lisa Holloway11/25/07
Your first paragraph is especially good. Very well written and creative entry!
Lyn Churchyard12/14/08
I loved the title. Perfect for the story. How good it is when God's children reach out to one another when they are suffering. Great writing!
Leah Nichols 12/14/08
I liked the analogy presented here. A very creative way to illustrate the hope of encouragement. Nicely done!
Gerald Shuler 12/14/08
“Holy Spirit, _______ is hurting. Have mercy on him/her. Fill him/her with your presence and comfort. Protect him/her from falling back into the pit he/she was in. Father, show him/her that You are always beside him/her. Carry him/her through this difficult time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

To all who find themselves in the dark trenches, this prayer is Light. I, for one, receive it.
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/07/09
Bouquet of solace... love the concept and beautiful story/allegory.