Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)
TITLE: We, The People
By Marlene Bonney
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This particular month, it was too cool for swimming so I spent most of my waking hours on my bicycle, exploring. Little did I know the adventure that awaited me . . .
The air was crisp and the morning dew still lingered as I rode to the awakening town’s outskirts. The sun’s rays penetrated my jacket from the outside while my pedaling feet energized my own body heat from the inside. Soon it was just me and nature, civilization fading into the distant horizon of my world.
I cannot recall all of the trails, nooks and crannies I visited that memorable morning, but I collected treasures from them all in my bike basket. Acorns, pinecones and colorful stones flecked with sparkles and colorful wildflowers that I threaded through the basket weave. On the way back out onto the dirt road I caught sight of a red flash in the bushes. Turning to investigate its source, I found a trail of beautiful pieces of red glass. Dismounting from my bike, I climbed through tall weeds and brush, picking up additional glass pieces as I walked, reminding me of Hansel & Gretel’s famed trail from the gingerbread house. Birds, cicadas, and butterflies graced the area surrounding me and I watched several chipmunks and squirrels scamper in my wake.
And all of a sudden, I was taken by surprise by a small clearing that housed a beat up old church! The church belfry was tipping awry and the doors were partially unhinged, hanging forlornly at odd angles. My heart pounded in excitement at this unforeseen prospect for adventure. The leaf and twig carpeted wooden steps were rickety, but not unsafe and I scrambled into the building. There I found larger pieces of stained glass in bright shades of green, red, yellow and orange scattered over the wood floor. Jagged shards still hung in the large window frame behind the cobweb-laced altar. All the other window openings had loosening slats nailed over them.
Dilapidated or not, this was to become my secret dwelling. I toiled away for the next several days to make it more inhabitable. Several painful blisters and sore muscles later, the church had become a real sanctuary. I loved the way God’s creation spilled into the room as I knelt at the altar. I placed flowers and tree boughs on ledges and pew ends, as well as adorning the stained glass window with strands of colorful beads. I marveled at the intricate simplicity of the whole scene, this haven for God’s presence so pure and uncomplicated by the ordinary present day fancy paraphernalia of air conditioning, sound systems, and band instruments. In this, my own secret chapel, I worshipped God, singing as I drummed on the antiquated and out-of-tune piano and praying and reading aloud passages from a worn old Bible that had been left behind on one of the pews.
Something was missing, though. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something wasn’t quite right. Each day as I entered my sanctuary and each day as I left, I contemplated this phantom aura that seemed just beyond my reach. Then, God showed me the answer in an unexpected way. My mother was talking about returning home and about our church friends waiting for our arrival. I could just picture the bevy of friends standing inside our stately church to welcome us home. And it hit me like a ton of bricks: THAT was what was missing at my woodland chapel—PEOPLE! I had missed that single most important aspect of the blessing that the community and fellowship of corporate worship brings.
That was when, right on the spot, I invited by parents and the people in the cottages around us, to the little church in the wildwood every Sunday morning. We made friends and music and worshipped together, forging bonds that have lasted a lifetime and then some. And that’s when I discovered that the building we met in was not THE CHURCH, but together, we were!
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