Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)
TITLE: Blue-Haired and Broken
By Brenda Shipman
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She stood on tiptoe and peeked through the tiny window in the sanctuary door. It still looked the same after all these years, only smaller and not quite as magnificent as she remembered. She was late for the service, but that was a good thing - no chance for chatty polite conversation and probing questions.
The place was packed. She looked for an open seat, preferably the back row, and saw the only opening next to an old blue hair with a walker. Guess the lady hadn’t gotten the memo that bluish rinse for gray hair had gone out years ago. Well, at least they’d have their hair in common, she thought, as she fingered the bold blue streaks running through her own hair.
She slipped in during the singing and sat down. Blue hair handed her a hymnal, smiled and said, “We’re singing number twelve. Hi, my name is Emma.”
“Yeah, hi. I’m Kara.”
Emma lifted her own hymnal and picked back up with the singing. She glanced at the young woman beside her and noticed red stripes on Kara’s arms - wounds. Emma stared at her own stripes – tiny white lines on each wrist, now healed and barely visible. Her thoughts jumped back to the day when her face was as young and smooth … and sad, as this young woman’s.
It was the day she’d finally given up. When her soul was bruised and beaten and she’d made the decision to cut her own body and let the life slowly flow out. She remembered the anger when she woke up in the hospital to find white gauze wrapped around her wrists and the realization that she had not been successful. The cruel joke that had become her life would continue.
Then the hospital chaplain’s visit – some young guy fresh out of seminary and annoyingly zealous. But his zeal had been tempered with gentleness when he approached her, like one picking up a fractured priceless vase. His compassion had eventually melted her heart enough to listen to a story. The story of Someone who had willingly allowed Himself to be cut and bruised - to bring light out of the darkness that had consumed her life.
It had taken time for the wounds on her wrists to heal, and an even longer time for the pain in her soul to fade. But God had done it, was continuing to do it… and even now her eyes flooded with the miracle of it all.
Kara saw the old woman staring at her arms, and she became angry. Who gives a rip what some stranger thought about her? Still, she pulled down the sleeves of her sweater. She looked again at the old woman and was startled to see her cloudy tear-filled eyes searching Kara’s face. Something long dead stirred just the tiniest bit inside her heart. She looked out the windows next to the pew; maybe she should just leave.
The sermon droned on and the hymns rolled through the sanctuary like funeral dirges. Why had she come here today, anyway? Just because she’d attended VBS here as a kid didn’t mean she belonged here. But she recalled how that whole VBS week of games and stories and songs had seemed written just for her. She remembered feeling like she was hearing a father calling his lost child’s name in some dark untamed forest. Her name …
She hadn’t heard the “voice” since that happy dreamlike week, though. She’d gone back home to the yelling and door-slamming and her mom’s creepy friends. The memory of Someone calling her name had faded with time.
But strangely enough, she woke up this morning…and remembered…and something magnetic had drawn her back to this place.
Finally, the pastor closed in prayer and she grabbed her purse and started to step out into the aisle. But Emma reached out and pressed a folded piece of scrap paper into the palm of her hand. Kara opened it and read the sloppy scrawl of weak arthritic fingers:
“He was bruised for our iniquities; and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
The old blue-haired woman cupped her gnarly hands around Kara’s face and said,
“You’re not the only one with scars, honey. I’ve got soup in the Crockpot at home. Would you like to come over for lunch?”
And through the marvelous sound of something breaking inside of her, the young blue-haired woman amazed herself by saying yes.
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