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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)

TITLE: Seizing the Moment
By Noel Mitaxa


“Time flies when you’re having fun!” Or as frogs might say: “time is fun when you’re having flies!” But if the fun suddenly stops and everything depends on your next move, the right words can be hard to find.

Vienna State Opera’s audience is captured by Richard Wagner’s romantic opera Lohengrin. Since it’s pronounced “low ‘n green,” our introductory frogs might place it on top of their charts; but that aside, it includes a much-loved bridal march that no wedding planner would dare to omit.

Operas seem to require farcical scenarios, as rich, powerful music ebbs and flows through absurd plots. But on this night farce reaches epic levels, just as Czech tenor Leo Slezak is poised to sing the final aria aboard a boat that glides off-stage, drawn by a huge swan.

Before Slezak can get on board an overeager stagehand activates the swan, which departs without him!

Cast members, onstage for this finale, glance at each other for a lead. In the orchestra pit, nervous musicians are looking up imploringly to their conductor, who knows that the audience’s stunned silence could quickly turn sullen or worse.

Slezak saves the moment with a stage-whisper that catches everyone’s ear: “Does anyone know what time the next swan leaves?”

Sometimes the right words just arrive like that; with no time to think. But great orators carefully prepare for maximum impact and to avoid verbal vandalism; maybe hoping for immortality, but never completely sure of iti.

“The world may little note what we say here,” Abraham Lincoln ironically observed in his famous 1865 Gettysburg Address, unaware of how the motivation and vision of his words could still inspire all who fight for justice.

In the dark days of 1940, with Britain isolated as the relentless juggernaut of Nazism’s vile hatred swept across Europe, many Britons were tempted to appease Hitler. But Winston Churchill’s defiant “We Shall Never Surrender” declaration shines on as a beacon that rallied the nation to fight on.

For many political analysts, Barack Obama’s presidency fulfils a prophecy from August 1963, when Martin Luther King Jnr’s passionate “I Have a Dream” speech refreshed the courage and persistence of thousands of civil rights workers who had gathered in Washington.

Speeches like these offer more than rhetoric, for they inspire hearers to act: not just a “Huh?” but a “Hey, why not?” Problems can become possibilities as people look beyond the emotional, financial or political quicksand that once intimidated them.

We may never save a grand opera, nor rally our nation to action. But at any time God may single us out to challenge apathy or injustice; to invite people into a new vision; or to get alongside those who have given up on themselves.

Such talk may not come easily; but as Proverbs 25:11 says: “Aptly-spoken words are like golden apples set in silver.” For these words can change people’s lives forever, as they deflate bullies; give victims new dignity; mobilise resources and dispel the insidious kind of blame that likes to get in the way – even when no-one’s at fault.

We may meet a “Huh?” along the way, but as we allow God to release his words, attitudes and actions into our connections with other people, his living water will flow; drawing them to his healing, his forgiveness and to a whole new life.

Yet the greatest “Huh?” of all time will never come to us, it will come from us!

Matthew 25: 31 – 45 relates how God will step in to wrap up this temporary part of our human history to separate the sheep from the goats; when he reveals how much he has been honoured as we have served the unlikely, the unwanted and the unwashed – those he calls the least of these his brethren – for then we will discover that we have actually done all this to him!

Our response will be: “Huh?”


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Member Comments
Member Date
Lollie Hofer01/30/10
Excellent essay! I thoroughly enjoyed, not only reading this thought provoking story, but the challenge you've sent my way. Thanks for sharing.
Adetokunbo Oluwasanjo02/01/10
Gosh! Do you ever have those moments when you feel like someone read your mind and answered you? That's what your writing did to me today. It captured that moment!
I'd just posted a comment with that very same verse Proverbs 25:11.....How time and chance happen and how our words may never be heard if we do not speak them......and how powerful our words can be if we choose to yield them to the Master.
Was really blessed....Thanks for sharing!!!
Beth LaBuff 02/04/10
"time is fun when you're having flies!" that is a new one. :) The opera you describe would have been a riot to see. What a comeback line, the actor delivered. (I've never heard that story). :)

I think the Biblical Joseph had a lot of "huhs?" in his life, what a testament of one who allowed God to work. -- Our prayer, that we my recognize the "new vision" you speak of, and with His help, act on it. Great message in your writing! I'm looking forward to the time you describe.
Sarah Elisabeth 02/04/10
Hey Noel, the highest rankings were just posted on the forums, congrats on placing 11th in Level 3! Awesome job, you can view the rankings here:

Jan Ackerson 02/28/10
Noel, I'm going to feature this in the Front Page Showcase for the week of March 1. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page--and congratulations!