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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: Dianne's Orientation
By Pam Richards


“Don’t you know anything?” Shannon’s eyes teased behind thick black makeup. “These are Tarot cards; these are crystals.”

Dianne found everything about her new roommate fascinating: her dyed black hair, her clothes, the silver-filled piercings, and her mystical beliefs. They had arrived on campus the day before, and the two could not be more different. Dianne’s colorful clothes and accessories matched her perky personality. Although she never dreamed of wearing black exclusively, she was ready to embrace changes the anonymity of college might bring. There was only one person who knew her here: Paul.

Dianne and Paul attended the same high school. Paul was friendly, but she felt uncomfortable in his presence, as if somehow her soul was exposed. She sighed in agony when she learned he had also enrolled at IU. She did not want a judgmental do-gooder spying on her.

Shannon continued her explanation. “These are for connecting with the spirit realm to see the future.” Dianne was mesmerized as she followed the reflected light of the stones and rubbed the intricate designs of the cards. Perhaps Shannon would show her how to use these later, but they were out of time for now. They had to get to orientation.

They neared the entrance to the auditorium and Dianne inwardly groaned as Paul approached. However, as Dianne made the introduction, she noticed something about Paul for the first time. He possessed a quality she rarely saw in anyone—he was genuinely interested in Shannon and in seeing Dianne again. How could she have missed that in him before? Dianne was surprised to find herself actually attracted to his warmth, and she wanted to disappear when she felt herself blush. She hoped neither had noticed.

After orientation, they talked over cafeteria food. Shannon’s parents had divorced, and she rarely saw her dad. Her mom never remarried but had plenty of male companions while Shannon was growing up. Suddenly Shannon’s cell phone chimed. “It’s Devon. I’ll see you later.” She took off toward the dorm. Dianne and Paul continued to talk while more of his engaging charm unfolded.

Paul talked easily about his commitment to Christ and his hopes for the future. Dianne did not understand all the “saved” and “born again” business, but Paul explained it in simple terms. He was convinced that what he believed was true. They decided to meet again later. Dianne wanted to hear more and to spend time with Paul.

Dianne was lost in her thoughts about her two new friends as she walked back to the dorm. Shannon was unlike anyone she had ever known. Did spiritual mysticism answer the secrets of the universe? Shannon believed that it did. She believed she could choose her own destiny and make her own rules. What could be better than that? The New Age music, crystals, cards, and ideas intrigued Dianne greatly.

Dianne entered the room and was startled to see Shannon clutching the telephone and crying uncontrollably. Dianne drew close with some tissues and put her arm around Shannon. “What’s wrong?” Shannon continued sobbing as the story tumbled out. Devon had called to break up. “I was a fool,” Shannon said. “I trusted him. The cards said we would be married. That’s why I gave in to him… ‘we can travel the path of enlightenment together’… what a joke. This has made me realize I believed lies. I studied all the New Age books looking for answers, and it leads to nowhere. I thought practicing meditation would bring me peace, but I’m depressed, and the more I practice it, the more nightmares I have. I thought I would get answers to the mysteries of life, but all I have is confusion.”

They sat together quietly for a while; both lost in thought. Finally, Shannon spoke again. “You want to know the worst of it. My mom was right. She was right about everything. She has become so weird since she started going to that Calvary church. She quit partying and reads her Bible all the time. She tried to warn me about Devon and about New Age, but I wouldn’t listen. She told me the way to peace was through Jesus Christ.” She paused briefly, “Now I’m starting to wonder, do you think she could be right?”

Dianne called Paul to tell him Shannon would be joining them. Dianne was not yet sure how to answer Shannon’s question, but she knew someone who could—for both of them.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Colin Swann02/04/08
Too right New Age does offer a bright but false way. True that Christ's way is the brightest and best.
A timely lesson as New Age ideas are permeating into main-stream christian churches.
It is the modern deception. I really enjoyed your piece that has a real message with it. thanks so much!
Joanne Sher 02/04/08
Great characterization - these people definitely seemed real to me. Your title is perfect for the piece too. Nice job.