Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)
TITLE: Beauty for Ashes
By Eliza Evans
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Every word dropped to the pit of my stomach like a heavy stone. And stayed there.
Twenty-three years of marriage just...gone.
That was three months ago.
I was coping pretty well I thought, getting by anynway, when I saw two ladies from my old church.
They were a few ahead of me in the grocery line. Did they want me to overhear?
“Oh, there's Pam Conrad. Poor dear. Hardly gets out of the house these days, I'm told. Oh my, yes. He took up with that pretty little thing Marcie Kent. A shame about Pam, though. Yes, yes. They have two college kids, so I am told. You know how people talk.
Pam looks like she's put on weight don't you think, Delores?”
A shame about Pam, eh? Is that what people were saying? That I'd opted out of life?
I'd show them!
Online, that night, I impulsively clicked yes to a “Spiritual Retreat in the North.” Not only was I being adventuress, I was getting enlightened!
I had lived in Manitoba all my life, but I had never taken the tour to see the polar bears.
The bus arrived at Northern Star Lodge, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere!
It was a clear navy blue sky in the summer twilght and the air was crisp and alive.
A fifteen foot high fence surrounding the compound around the lodge, kept out marauding bears.
Tall lodge doors opened to the warmth of polished pine floors, high ceilings and large
elaborately framed windows. The deep green, gold and plum coloured furnishings blended together with the yellow pine to create a rich, relaxing atmosphere. A floor to ceiling rock fireplace stood at one end of the living room. The fire crackled brightly, casting a warm glow over everything.
“A place to put your feet up.” Marilyn our hostess said, welcoming us.
Early the next morning I was introduced to the other guests. I went through the motions of hello, but I wasn't trying to remember names or make a connection.
Jim, our host announced, “We supply the lodging and grub, nature provides the quiet space but it's up to each individual here to have their own personal rendezvous, revival with God.
Suited me fine. I had dreaded any questions like, “What's the Lord doing in your life these days?”
Jim led us up the staircase to the look-out tower, a unique room with all glass walls to view nature and wandering wildlife, up close and personal. The lodge hosted photographers from all over the world who used this specialized site.
The first snow of the season had fallen during the night and a thick blanket covered everything.
Looking in every direction, all was a huge expanse of white.
vast. immense. endless. on and on. forever and ever.
And the sky over every inch of it!
I sat down.
I felt overwhelmed.
All of a sudden it seemed like the pot of my emotions was bubbling over. I felt my face get hot. I blinked back tears. Keep it together Pam! Keep it together! I chanted in my brain. I dug my nails into my palms, bit down hard on my lip trying desperately to distract myself. But it was no use. I couldn't hold it in. I closed my eyes and began to cry. I mean really cry. Great gulping sobs.
Instantly, I felt two hands on my shoulder. Then four. Someone kneeling beside me. A hand on my forehead. All around me, soothing and murmuring.
"We're here. Amen. Let it go, sister. Praise God. We're with you. It's alright."
All lines blurred between us and these strangers became the body of Christ to me, administering His healing anointing oil.
I had come up here to this place to prop up my confidence in self and to fortify outward appearances. And yes, to say I had braved the wilderness and seen the bears.
But GOD, with a breath of Love, blew all that aside and met me, spirit to spirit, in the ashes of my life.
We had a tremendous week of fun, food and fellowship after that. Saw a lot of polar bears, too. Even a mother and her two cubs swimming in the lake!
I'm coming back next year, with my own two kids, and for the right reasons, too.
See Isa 61:3
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