Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)
TITLE: God, The Woodshed, and Me
By Linda Germain
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The excessive cacophony and blatant visual and mental attacks on all living things has reached near criminal proportions. The whole world seems to have morphed into transfixed toads floating happily in a bubbling pot of thinly disguised sewage, blissfully unaware how hot the fire is under the cauldron that will become a massive grave if some of them don’t leap out and shout, “Enough! Everybody just SHUT UP and listen! You’re being boiled in foolishness and it is killing you and you’re so deaf, dumb, and blind you don’t even know it!”
Such was my state of mind the morning I crawled through a smothering blanket of traffic in a too expensive vehicle designed with every bell and whistle to impress the masses. It could even speak. Somehow it forgot to tell me the air conditioning didn’t work. With all four windows lowered, I was appalled at the relentless noise assailing my over-saturated brain.
My ears had no place to hide from the painful thump-thumping decibels that roared through the air from inconsiderate citizenry bent on claiming total disharmony as our national anthem.
Billboards assaulted passers-by with messages aimed at separating the catatonic population from its money, virtue, time, constitutional rights, and even its salvation.
Jackhammers, sirens, jets, hole-filled mufflers, and irritable, sleepy, or medicated horn-blowers united in a jarring chorus. They were accompanied by jingling cell phone ringers with every rinky-tink tune from stage musicals to gangster rap; from big bands to polka. At some point, too much is finally too much. I took the next exit and never looked back.
With no destination in mind, I turned off the dashboard screen so anxious to tell me how to go almost anywhere. My wanderings took me over a state line and into a mountainous, tree-covered place with little traffic. The quiet verged on deafening.
I saw a stream meandering alongside the unpopulated road and stopped to get a drink like the guys in cowboy movies do. I have never tasted anything so cool and refreshing in my life. I dipped my handkerchief in the clear rippling nectar and held it to my face. A huge rock seemed to be begging for me to sit down and lean against it. That’s when I fell asleep. That’s when the epiphany came.
In a dream, set in a wooded place very much like the one I had found, a gentle man with a kind voice walked out of the thicket and began to talk. Everything he said made great sense.
“Can you hear the leaves as they rustle in the breeze? Does the bird’s sweet song touch your soul? Can you feel the comfort of hushed peace? Take a deep breath. Is it free of smoke, filth, and fumes? “
I smiled in reply. He continued.
“The kind of relationship God desires with you cannot be forged in the midst of vile dissonance.”
Obvious Wisdom was speaking. I did not comment.
“When Jesus went into the garden to pray, He had no electronic devices designed to sabotage His concentration. Satan tried. Satan failed.”
Then the man lowered the boom. He was unflinching in his delivery.
“YOU MUST STOP THE INSANITY AND BEGIN TO CONCENTRATE TOO.”
I sat up straighter to get every word.
“You think prayer is something you sling towards Heaven on the run, or on the Sabbath in corporate so-called worship? Will your Creator try to be heard over the perversity of the world you have so blatantly embraced, even though naming yourself as one of His?”
I bowed my head in contrition. When I looked up he was gone. When I woke up, tears were on my face. My heart was transformed.
The slow drive back through the dark gave me plenty of time to meditate, and yes, to CONCENTRATE. God had given me a purpose and His guidance was almost palpable.
I sold everything and built a secluded retreat where people who desire to be unchained from the world’s disruptive and debilitating lies can come to discover the Truth.
Without being disrespectful to historical sufferings, and fully aware of the seriousness it exemplifies, I named the restorative sanctuary Camp Concentration – where the captive can be set free.
It’s the least I could do.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double minded.
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