Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Reason for the Season of Christmas (12/04/08)
TITLE: A Witness In Chains
By Diana Smith
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Despair whispers through the prison bars at my skeletal body. You will never again feel those lips; never hear the sound of a child’s laughter. You are lost here in this concrete cell, beyond the grasp of any who love you. I suck in my breath at that thought, a battle call sounding in my spirit. I know I am not out of reach of the One who loves me more than any other. Clinging to that knowledge, I exhale slowly. Despair slinks away, defeated for now. A grateful prayer wafts through my thoughts as sleep reluctantly descends.
The morning brings some nourishment - hard bread and a small mound of dried fruit wait on the bare floor near the entrance to my cell. Not the feast this sacred morning will bring to many homes, but enough to quiet the growling hunger. I have long forgotten the taste of a holiday meal and can barely remember the sight of a laden table. Those missing scenes make no difference, for Christmas still arrives without them. With this meager meal I am provided for and it is enough, even today.
The smell of damp rock and unwashed bodies soaks my nostrils, not fresh pine or warm spice. No ribbons or colourful lights hang, only abandoned spider webs and murals of moss cling to the walls. There are no schedules to keep, greetings to send, or traditions to share. This day will still find me weak and alone in this dank cell, yet somehow full of praise. My heart radiates warmly, not masking the harsh reality but altering the very way my body reacts to it. The knowledge of today is the lone jewel in my possession, a tonic that I drink with abandon. For today reminds me that I can never be forgotten, that one life began in order than none may be lost. I know that the One born on this day willingly shouldered a punishment beyond what I could imagine.
Squatting close to the bars, I listen for sounds of life around me. A soft weeping floats through the corridor beyond and is overwhelmed by a thunderous curse. No sleigh bells or the bustle of gatherings, here the only sounds are full of sorrow, anger or pain. Music seems absurd, yet I suspect the seed of joy I carry in my heart will be the only light that shines through the inky blackness. A prayerful song in my head might be more prudent, but darkness can only be broken by light that shines forth.
My voice croaks in song, beginning quietly but swelling with each word. It is a familiar tune that silences the weeping and curses for a moment. With eyes closed, I lift my hands to the heavens beyond the prison walls, offering the only thing I have left to give. To all who can hear, this is my gift, a testimony of the truth that will not be bent, shadowed or forgotten. It is true that there is hope, deliverance, and forgiveness because of this day. Nothing else matters here or anywhere.
As the song fades, wild laughter and angry oaths are thrown in my direction. It is no matter that my fellow prisoners have only mockery and rage for me. Men had the same for Him, and yet He gave all that He had. I gladly follow and accept whatever returns to me.
Singing again softly, a carol flutters from my cell undeterred. It is how I must mark this sacred event. Today will pass like all of the others and in chains I will witness the marching of time. But there is great joy as I look forward to the morning where I will admire dawn outside this prison. Because of Christmas, I will one day be free.
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