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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: In The Stillest Hour
By Jan Ackerson


A small brick church stands at the corner of Elm and Main, her eaves bedecked with a row of icicles. Above her, the silvery moon illuminates a dancing path of snow which dusts her gabled roof. It is the stillest hour of the night.

The visitor enters, and pauses just inside her silent doors. Although the church has been empty for several hours, an aroma lingers in the air; the visitor takes a few steps with eyes closed and arms outstretched, reveling in the fragrance as it clings to his face, his shoulders, his hands.

A smile crinkles his eyes as he enters the darkened fellowship hall. There are thousands of echoes here, and he hears every voice. He remembers every gathering in this room, the clink of every spoon, the click of every slide. With a surge of love he wades through the century of memories, gathering up whispers of laughter.

Now he moves into the Sunday School rooms, with the eager faces of generations of children before him. He has memorized each freckle and curl, each gap-toothed smile and scabbed knee. His heart fills up as he listens--in the same span of time at which light captures dark-- to every story ever told here. Hundreds of children have lisped his name in these rooms, and as he visits each corner, he cherishes them all.

His steps take him next into the sanctuary, where he stops for a moment to gaze at the large wooden cross dominating the platform. He remembers…

And now the air pulses and swells with music, glorious music, in tempos both quick and slow, in major and minor keys. His people are singing for him, past, present, and future. The music is both hushed and loudly joyous, at once a capella and accompanied by strings, brass, drums. Each note is precious to the listener’s ears.

As he approaches the altar, he lingers at each pew, hearing through the ages all the words of comfort or encouragement ever spoken there. With great tenderness he thinks of each person by name—man, woman, and child, senior citizen and infant.

At the pulpit he stops to listen with joy to a thousand sanctified sermons.

Finally, the visitor stands at the altar, where myriad prayers have ascended from countless earnest lips. He watches as the shadows of innumerable petitions and praises rise heavenward, and he remembers each one. He walks the length of the altar, remembering too the prayers that are yet to come, and shedding blessing from his fingertips.

His benediction now settles into every niche of the church, and he steals silently away. The little brick building stands serenely beneath the stars. It is the stillest hour of the night.

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This article has been read 1199 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Cartwright12/13/07
"..whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.." is what came across to me as I read this winsome story.

Sheri Gordon12/13/07
This is so calming ... so beautiful.

I love the detail -- especially this line: "He remembers every gathering in this room, the clink of every spoon, the click of every slide." That gives so much description in one little line.

Beautiful picture of "The Church."
Peter Stone12/14/07
A lovely, delightful reflection on church life.
Temple Miller12/15/07
Your exquisite imagery allowed me to experience each scene... I loved the "gathered whispers" and the circle completion, beginning and ending with the same line. I loved it.
Joanne Sher 12/15/07
Lovely - I love the repetition of the early line at the end. I felt like I was right there with Him.
Venice Kichura12/16/07
So descriptive---just beautiful! I really enjoyed this!
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/16/07
This was a lovely descriptive view of God's church in one particular place.
Dianne Janak12/17/07
This one was awesome... going to add it to my favorites... great way to describe Jesus and the joy
we must give Him when we get
together with the Body.. great writing... Dianne J.
Catrina Bradley 12/18/07
I like it Jan. Vivid descriptions and great prose. Red pen: I figured out who the "visitor" was from the children lisping His name. The past comes through great; the present in the the future are mentioned toward the end, but not as strongly. This is so well written (of course) and the ending leaves me with a sense of peace and all is right with the world because Jesus is watching us. :) Love, Cat.

Betty Castleberry12/18/07
This gave me a feeling of comfort and peace. It's lovely, and SO well written. Kudos.
LaNaye Perkins12/18/07
This entry stirred me so deeply. I felt like I was right there, experiencing everything with the Lord. I love how you wove past, present, and future together. This is one of my favorites.
Dee Yoder 12/18/07
This is beautifully serene. I love the opening descriptions of the setting first of all. Then I like the entrance of the visitor and the instant scent of the saints He inhales. You move the writer lovingly into the atmosphere of past worship with such skill.

If I picked anything to improve, it would be the same as the previous commenter: I'd love to hear more about the present, and especially the future worship. I'm so intrigued by this idea-Jesus lives all at once in three realms of time. How'd you think to write about that unique concept?! Very introspective.
william price12/18/07
Sally Hanan12/18/07
A great piece of prose. Red ink wise, you said you wanted to place it in all time periods, but it's based more in the past than the other two.Your opening was spectacular.
Mariane Holbrook 12/19/07
Beautiful! It's not a stretch to think this is how it's done, either. I love to think of Him coming to our church in this fashion, perhaps stopping at our pew and momentarily resting His hand there, quietly asking one of His angels to minister to our family in time of need.
Marita Vandertogt12/19/07
This read was a gentle, soft experience, that made me feel the presence of Jesus in such peaceful way..the only tiny red letter I would make - and it's very tiny, but the words "senior citizen" sort of took it from a soft flow for me, and clanged just a little.. maybe "elderly and infant" would read a little smoother. Other than that, I agree with all the others... this is so peaceful, and I could feel the presence of Jesus as I read along. Beautiful writing!
Loren T. Lowery12/19/07
I was captivated by the atmospehre of this piece, but at the same time (red ink) tripped over a few of the words (i.e. stillist) that seemed forced and and out of cadence with the otherwise beautiful voice of the prose. And yet, the irony is that it still works to create what I admire so much about it. I know that my critique is probably about as helpful as using jello to cement a brick retaining wall...sorry : (
But I still love the piece. : )
Sara Harricharan 12/19/07
So very beautiful. For some reason I keep thinking it happened on Christmas Eve. ^_^ I can't find a whole lot to nitpick for the RED PEN, but the piece where he is remembering the prayers at the alter, seemed a little too rushed. Everything else too its time and slowly rolled through the scene. Apart from that, this felt like a dream you don't want to wake up from just yet.
Yvonne Blake 12/19/07
Absolutely beautiful!
I love your use of words to paint a crystal clear picture.
I love this line:
"He remembers…"
You didn't need to finish the sentence. I told all.
So serene, so still!

Paula Titus 12/19/07
A glimpse into the heart of Christ - beautiful.
Ann Renae Hair12/19/07
I enjoyed this very much.
Only red ink...senior citizen really tripped me up!
LOVED how he 'remembered' the future...beautifully accomplished your goal.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge12/19/07
It brought back memories of when I would go from room to room in the church to close lights and lock doors. I always felt that Jesus was walking with me through His building, and often wondered what He thought of what had taken place. This will be a blessing to those in ministry.
LauraLee Shaw12/20/07
I could picture being in this place just perfectly, and I took a deep breath in and out reading it. My heart was still by the end. Beautiful.