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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)

TITLE: The March
By Rick Higginson


Left, right, left, right.

I’ve lost track of how long we’ve been on this march. Days, easy. Weeks? Maybe. We don’t even know where we’re going, and sometimes the only way to keep going is just to focus on one step at a time.

Left, right, left, right.

I can almost hear my old drill sergeant counting the cadence so many years ago, yelling like his mouth was full of marbles. “Owup, ooop, reeep, forp.” None of us recruits had the nerve to criticize his diction. Hard to believe, now, that we were all so afraid of him. Imagining him alongside this formation, yelling out his commands, helps keep me moving.

Step, slog, step, slog.

To distract my mind from my aching feet, I turn to the guy next to me. “You know, I’ve been thinking,” I say.

“Not like there’s much else to do, besides walking,” he says.

“Since it’s God’s kingdom, and God is our King, do you suppose this is kind of a feudal system?”

“I don’t know about that, but this whole journey seems pretty futile to me.”

“It would mean there’d be loads of peasants at the bottom of the ladder.”

“God could rapture them by yelling, ‘Serfs up!’”

“Give me wax for my board, keep me serfin’ for the Lord,” I sing.

“Keep it up; I’ve almost forgotten how long it’s been since lunch.”

“Of course, I’ve always preferred the chivalrous age. Give me a suit of armor and a quest from God, and I’m set.”

It’s his turn to sing. “Oh holy knight, the stars are brightly shining.”

“Maybe I could get a title, like duke or baron.”

“God’s already had some barons. Wasn’t Sarah barren?”

“Excellent point, and aren’t we also bearin’ each other’s burdens?”

“A burden the hand is worth two in the bush.”

“Oh, good one. Remind me not to covet my neighbor’s puns.” I wish I’d thought of that one.

“I think in this situation, God will overlook it.”

My foot hits some slick mud, and he catches my arm before I fall. “Look out; now I’m back sliding.”

“Don’t worry; I’ll hold you accountable.”

“I’ve been a’countin’ all day. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, left, right.”

“Is that any way for a child of the King to act?”

“Hey, that’s right! I’m a child of the King! You know what that makes me? I’m the Prince formally known as artist.”

“I think it’s more likely we’re both just fools.”

“The fool was a highly regarded member of the king’s court. I’d rather be a fool by the throne of God, than a prince somewhere else.”

“Shut yer yaps, Christians,” the guard comes up behind us, yelling. He hisses the word “Christian” to emphasize his opinion of us. “It’d be a waste of ammo to shoot you both right here, but you keep up that yammerin’, and I might just decide it’s worth it.”

I glance at my friend, and the resigned smile that crosses both our lips indicates the unspoken agreement. I offer a silent prayer for the soldiers charged with escorting us wherever we are going, and I know my companion is doing likewise. The jokes and the laughs were our short-lived distraction; a momentary reminder that, even in this persecution, God’s joy is our strength.

The Kingdom of God is at hand, we whisper through the huddled groups at night. How do we know? In the deepest darkness, that first ray of light breaking over the horizon is startling, and in this dark time, we can see the glimpse of our Redeemer approaching.

Left, right, left, right.

We wanted the Kingdom to come easily for us. We wanted to be found happily worshipping our God in the midst of good times, and be taken out before the real birth-pangs started. Our King had other ideas.

Left, right, left, right.

We pass a body lying face down in the mud; one of our brethren whose body finally gave out on this death-march. In a way, I envy him; he is now arrayed in the ranks of the Army of the Kingdom of God. He is strong now, and perfected. I ask my King when my turn will come, and I think I hear a softly whispered voice saying, “Soon.”

Step, slog, step, slog.

With a slight smile, I keep walking. Our captors don’t know it, but we’re marching to the Kingdom.

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This article has been read 1153 times
Member Comments
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Lynda Schultz 03/19/09
Wow! Really good writing and lots to think about here.
Shirley McClay 03/19/09
Great puns! Lol. Yet a very sobering story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/21/09
You managed to insert humor into a desperate situation and told a wonderful story.
Joanne Sher 03/23/09
I am truly amazed at the variety of emotions that went through me in these few words. The puns in the middle had me laughing out loud, while the rest had me pondering. the use of the marching was very effective.
Jim McWhinnie 03/23/09
Intriguing piece written with skill and wit.

Wonderful pace.
Gregory Kane03/23/09
What I like about this story - aside from some of the truly dreadful puns - is the fact that you never quite know what is coming next. The plot deftly turns every expectation on its head. And a highly satisfying ending - as Jesus made so very clear, the Kingdom isn't about us and our petty comforts, it's about putting the Lord and his glory first in our lives.
Jan Ackerson 03/24/09
I love your puns, your light touch, and your wordsmithing. Wonderful entry.
Sheri Gordon03/24/09
So many creative one-liners in here...very funny. But such a serious message, too. Combining the two is very tough to do, and you did it well.

I got a little lost with the back-and-forth dialogue at times...not knowing who was talking. But then again, it didn't really matter who was saying what, so it certainly didn't deter from the piece.

Very good writing, and great job with the topic.
Dee Yoder 03/24/09
This one had my emotions rolling up and down with each step. Oh boy. I hope I can make jokes and puns if I ever have a journey like this one. Kind of makes me shudder and smile at the same time.
Chely Roach03/25/09
What a great "aha" moment you have created, which was a strange paradox of a punch to the gut and abounding joy. Wonderful writing.
Diana Dart 03/25/09
Eerie and a bit unsettling, but in a joyous, hopeful way (how's that for weird?) I loved the puns/jokes, but the hiss of the guard brought me up short. Fantastic way to surprise and challenge the reader. May I say that you have such a deep mind? There, I did.
Bryan Ridenour03/25/09
Great humor wrapped up with a serious message and challenge to us. Well done!
Mona Purvis03/25/09
A one-of-a-kind entry, to be sure! Very compelling. Humor in the midst of trouble. Only works when you know the outcome and are prepared for it like your characters. Splendid.
Sheri Gordon03/26/09
Congratulations on your 1st place. Great piece.
Rachel Rudd 03/26/09
Wow! Wow! Wow! I was so enjoying the humorous tone of this piece. I am very corny myself so it hit the spot, and I was just thinking it was a fun piece....and then you blew me away with the reality of what the march was. Wow! Excellent writing. A well-deserved win!
Gerald Shuler 03/26/09
You have a remarkable ability to direct the reader's emotions through your words. I would love to write like that. Well deserved EC.
Carol Slider 03/26/09
You did a fine job of balancing the serious subject matter with some wonderful humor! Congratulations!
Jim McWhinnie 03/26/09
A winner in every sense ... I loved the pace and rhythm of this delightful piece of prose
Sonya Leigh03/26/09
Congratulations! This was a great story, a wonderful tribute to the Spirit of God who lives in us and causes us to rejoice, even in the worst of circumstances.
Beth LaBuff 03/26/09
Hoomi, Wow! Congrats on placing with this clever story. Love your humor!!
Great poet. You write beautifully well. Congrats!!
Dennis Ricci04/01/09
Outstanding!! Powerful imagery coupled with playfulness and skillful 'pun-ditry'. A brilliant piece that moves me to keep marching for my King.
Deborah Ann Belka04/07/09
Right,Right,Right, so very true and right.