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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)

TITLE: The Wild Life
By Aaron Morrow
06/04/08


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…The Church's One Foundation…Is Jesus Christ the Lord...She is His new crea...” Daryl stopped singing when he saw the ghost lumbering slowly toward him.

I shifted on the folding chair to see the white shape more clearly through the rain which spattered lightly on the gathering. Near where fourteen hundred saints had worshipped two weeks ago, barely sixty members were scattered across the sea of chairs.

The wet charcoal stench assailed my nostrils and made my stomach roil while the cold rain drizzled into my slicker and saturated my clothing. The lone figure in the white gown crossing in front of the charred ruins looked like a film in photo negative.

My senses screamed that I had been physically transported into a nightmare, punctuated by the heat-warped plaque lying near a blackened foundation stone:

"South Street Baptist Assembly. Founded September 14th, 1927."

And, in white spray paint, scrawled below:

“Losted 5/22/08”

As the ghost drew nearer to the makeshift stage covering the handicapped parking spaces, it materialized into Bill Maas.

“Wild” Bill was a transient that had started showing up at South Street over the last couple of months. He was definitely an “extra grace required” kind of visitor, complete with gruffness, a matted mop of gray hair, and the thick smell of urine and sweat.

He had started camping outside the church several months ago and had even been panhandling at the entry which created quite a stir among some of South Street’s more vocal members. Looking around at the small, rain-soaked gathering, I noted that the more incensed members had had decided to skip our first service since the fire.

Bill stepped under the cover and said something to Daryl, who just nodded and moved to a folding chair. Wild Bill stepped to the battery-powered microphone, tapped it several times, and began to speak in a slurring bass voice that would shake the gravel from a quarry.

He looked at the sky. "It was raining like this the morning I died…April 7th, 1992. I was working at the plant and got the call…there'd been an accident…a fire…just like what happened here." He turned slightly and stuck out his thumb toward the ruins behind him.

"The difference was…" he seemed to claw emotionally for words, "my wife, Kim…and my baby girl, Elly…they didn't make it out." Bill paused, collecting himself before continuing.

"The insurance company built a new house to replace my home. I remember walking through it every night thinking how clean it was…how the walls were so…white and empty; and how, without Elly and Kim, it always seemed so very cold…like a doctor’s examination room…"

"I started trying to warm myself with a bottle, and before long I…I moved into that bottle. But, because I was dead, I didn't care about the cold anymore."

“Time went by and, the next thing I knew, I had wasted sixteen years and everything I owned proving how dead I was. Then, awhile back, God led me to that big oak that used to stand by the chapel. That was my bed…"

"I remember waking up one morning to singing. I listened and asked myself the question in the hymn, ‘Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?’. I decided to go in and find out."

"Later that same morning I found my answer and my new life.”

Bill stood quietly, and lowered his head as if in prayer.

“Behind me there was a house of worship that man built.” He looked up at us. “In front of me is the family home that Jesus built.”

Shame flooded over me as I realized that I came to mourn a building, instead of rejoicing that my family was not hurt. I had come to mourn a house built by man; rather than to thank Jesus for the true home that He bought for me with His blood.

Wild Bill spoke softly, “I am here today to be baptized by the rain into my new life. I don’t know where I will rest my head tonight, or what tomorrow has in store for me. What I do know is that I will always have this home and this family to keep me warm.”

As the ragged man in the baptism gown began to weep for joy, Daryl walked to Wild Bill. He placed his hand on Bill’s shoulder and began to sing once more.

With His own blood he bought her…and for her life He died…

The whole building is being fitted together in Him and is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, in whom you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:21-22 HCSB

Author’s Notes

Quoted hymns:
“The Church’s One Foundation” – Samuel J. Stone
“Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?” – Isaac Watts

This is a fictional story based on the quote: "Don't GO to church, BE the church."


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This article has been read 394 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 06/05/08
Beautiful--you've got some excellent words and phrases here, and a touching story.
Sara Harricharan 06/09/08
Wow! Quite a story! Something tells me there's a little more to it than you could fit in 750 words, but I like the idea and how it played out. Nice job. ^_^
Catrina Bradley 06/09/08
I REALLY like this! The parallel between the "ghost" and the man who had considered himself dead - the comparison of the house built by man to the home built by God. The baptism by rain was a beautiful addition. I got lost in the time & place flow a couple of times, but overall a very engaging, GOOD story, well written.
Debbie Wistrom06/11/08
You've created a lovely albeit smelly character here-I love Bill, you gave him a ghostly aura.

You did a great job setting this scene as a reminder.

Well done and so enjoyable
Loren T. Lowery06/11/08
Aaron, an amazing piece of writing. You had the reader right there with complete empathy for "Wild Bill". I liked the way you tied everything together, not a wasted scence at all. Great job! Loren
Karen Wilber 06/11/08
The pacing was perfect for me. Your story never dragged--and you dropped in a few details here and there that filled in blanks nicely and kept me reading. I like the way you involved all the senses in your description. Well done.
Joshua Janoski06/12/08
A perfectly woven tale. My heart really went out to Wild Bill, and I sure hope that the church got rebuilt, but you made a good point about the church not being a building - we are the church.

I will once again declare that you will soon be in the masters category. I say it every week, but that's because I believe it wholeheartedly. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on it.

Thank you for blessing us with your gift of words and storytelling, Aaron. Always a joy to read your stuff. :)