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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: The Salvation of Jared
By Deborah Engle


Before making his way across the courtyard to begin his work, Jared settled his mother on the bench where the sunshine would reach her. It was a simple act, but Miriam was always thankful for the kindness shown to her by her son. A warm breeze moved across her face, bringing with it familiar smells and sounds. The aroma of spices mingled with the odor of livestock from the nearby marketplace; the voices of vendors blended with the clatter of merchandise changing hands. Hearing the cry of an infant, Miriam’s thoughts turned back many years to the birth of her own son.

Before he was born I truly hoped he would not survive the birthing. My clients preferred privacy, something an infant would not accommodate. I had no use for an infant, and if he could know it, he would have no use for me. I was not worthy to raise a child and had no desire to do so. Surely no child deserved a harlot for a mother, and yet, there we were. Jared was condemned to a life of disgrace.

Contemplating such a dismal life for my son suddenly became irrelevant when I awoke to find the babe in my arms cold and still. Sudden death is always difficult, but I accepted-no welcomed it as a blessing. I supposed that Arza was showing compassion that day by keeping her own newborn on the far side of our dwelling, but she was not able to suppress his cries…cries which my own body recognized and responded to. In the midst of releasing my son to eternity, he had been reborn and in my heart was born a fierce maternal instinct that would not let him go again.

Miriam’s heart raced with the memories of that day. The intensity of the confrontation brought the neighbors to our door. Their concern was not for the circumstances faced by two brawling harlots, but for the loss of business they faced as customers found less tumultuous places to conduct their business. Unable to put an end to the commotion, the crowd drove us both to the Court of Justice.

It was inconceivable to think that Arza would steal my child to replace her own, but not as astounding as the solution the King proposed for the dispute. There was no way to prove which of us was lying, but Arza defiantly accepted his judgement to divide the child. Appalled and terrified, I fell at the foot of the throne, surrendering my claim in order to save the life of my son. The testimony of two hearts was the only evidence the King needed, and He decreed that I, indeed, was the true mother.

The aching in her joints gradually began to ease as the warmth from the sun worked its way through the folds of her garment. A songbird in the olive tree brought a smile to her face and her memories continued to unfold.

My relief and gratitude were overwhelming. My child had been blessed with life, not death. The wisdom demonstrated that day was the only thing that could have saved little Jared, but it also saved me. Because the King himself openly blessed the Lord for bestowing him with extraordinary wisdom, I was compelled to acknowledge the goodness of God. The truth of it engulfed my spirit. The shield of bitter arrogance I wore fell away like a cast-off cloak. The rebellion I had clung to for so long now seemed senseless, and in humility I surrendered to the sovereignty of the great Jehovah. I never returned to my former lifestyle, yet somehow never suffered undue want. Our story and my changed heart aroused compassion in a few, presenting opportunities for a new and virtuous way of life.

Her feeble hand trembled as it slowly moved to wipe away fresh tears of gratitude and awe for what had come to pass so long ago. As Jared made his way back for the mid-day meal, Miriam could only marvel at the honorable man he had become. His tender care of her, along with the affection of his children, fostered a never-ending spirit of humility.

A woman of ill repute seldom finds favor within her own family, but my journey began at the hand of God and even my grandchildren call me blessed. My life hasn’t counted for much, nor will anyone remember I ever lived, but the impact of that one day so long ago will ever echo within this family.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Yvonne Blake 05/02/08
Interesting! I can see this as part of a longer Biblical novel. I think a little more reference should have been given to Solomon. (you'd be surprised at how few have ever heard this story)
Creatively written.
Sara Harricharan 05/02/08
Very nicely done! Once I had a somewhat sense of who was who, this story developed quite nicely! I wish there'd been more though, I wanted to know what happened next. I also like how you assigned names to each of them-this is a fresh POV on a nice piece! ^_^
James Dixon05/06/08
Of course! The Wisdom of Solomon- Why didn't I think of that Biblical story? Great view point.
Joy Faire Stewart05/06/08
This is creative and well written. I would love to know more. Great job!
Holly Westefeld05/06/08
Excellent biblical choice for the topic, and a nice use of flashback.
Debbie Wistrom05/06/08
You created an intriguing voice for this story. I love the details of the marketplace at the beginning.

I have run across this story quite a few times recently so this was a refreshing look.
Joanne Sher 05/07/08
A VERY compelling story, and a great example for this topic. I love all you added to it - very engaging.

I do want to say that I found the large amount of text in italics a bit distracting (and a little hard on my head). Perhaps another way of separating the action from the interior monologue would be helpful.

The last paragraph, especially, was very strong. Nice job!
Sarah Engle05/20/08
I enjoyed reading this account, made personal, from scripture. Gives you a new perspective on what exactly this woman went through.