Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)
TITLE: The Sky was Quiet
By Earl Taylor
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During those 11 days, I soaked in the beauty of the nearby stream full of cutthroat trout. I saw herds of elk roll off one mountain seeking isolation and security on the other side of the valley. The magpies were greedy and demanded any extra morsels of bread or snacks. I saw a lighting storm explode a nearby pine into splinters. I was blessed and harvested a bull elk with my bow.
Hunting was hard work; there were four of us who had packed all of our gear on our backs the four miles into a wilderness area. We rose from our tents in the dark; pumped and purified our stream water in the dark; ate our oatmeal breakfast in the dark, hunted and walked all day; and fixed our freeze-dried supper in the dark without the aid of a campfire. We cooked our food in one small aluminum pan over a portable propane stove. Our routine lasted for eleven days. We had no company; nobody checked on us; nobody knew where we were.
The skies were quiet for three days and I didn’t understand it. Watching the jet tailings were part of my hunt as I waited on elk; looking into the sky and watching jets traveling east or west passed the time. I never saw a jet on my last three days on the mountain.
Three days had passed since 9/11 when I walked out of the wilderness: calmed, refreshed, and renewed. I walked into civilization; my first stop was a local restaurant to get real food. I sat stunned as I ate and watched the replays of the jets hitting the World Trade buildings.
I was man scared: without a shriek or a scream; it was more of a long drawn out sigh that anticipated the worse was yet to come. I felt torn apart inside as I tried to make sense of what had happened: terrorists, Bin Laden, President Bush, the rubble and deaths.
As I drove across I-80, stopping in towns like Ogallala, Grand Island, and Bellevue, I saw the fear and uncertainty in every face I met. I heard the stories from gas station clerks of the stranded flyers who had hitched a ride across country with a stranger. There was a silent understanding that another attack could be eminent.
I missed President Bush’s first evening speech, "Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts...we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." Before sleeping that night, President Bush entered into his journal: "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today...We think it's Osama bin Laden."
I drove the 800 miles back home numbed. Much of my fear was second-hand fear. Thankfully, I heard in my heart time and time again as I was swept back into life from the mountain, “ The same quietness, peace, and rest you found on the mountain is the same quiet, peace, and rest you can find now in me.”
My thoughts are not your thoughts about September 11th; I didn’t experience the watching of the first 72 hours of uncertainty and unrest, developing minute by minute, detail by detail. God quieted the skies for those few days; He still quiets the heart of men when storms and fears come our way.
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