It was noon of the third day and Casey Winton had no idea where she was. The barren landscape shimmered hazily, stretching out to meet the horizon in a slash of silver. The lawn in front of the veranda was the only greenery and that ended abruptly at the seven-foot steel and barbed wire fence.
Behind her, a fan followed a lazy cycle, back and forward, to and fro. The breeze ruffled her damp curls and helped staunch incessant trickles of sweat. She flicked a handkerchief at a buzzing fly and then mopped her face and neck again. In the distance, a lone cyclist wobbled down an earthen track. The ochre dust hung suspended, motionless, marking the route he had followed. Casey felt a pang of envy. He was in his home environment. He fitted in here, amongst the scrubby bushes and searing heat.
“Why?” fretted Casey for the umpteenth time that day. “Why won’t they tell me where I am? I want to know what’s happening at home.” She shifted position on the garden chair and disturbed the child within her. The baby lurched and kicked hard as though indignant at being woken. Casey wrapped protective arms across her belly. “I’m here Sweet Pea.” She closed her eyes as she murmured a lullaby her mother had taught her years ago.
As the baby settled, Casey picked up her Bible. She’d had twenty minutes to pack her belongings when they came for her; twenty minutes to choose which parts of her life to take. She hadn’t read the Word in months but grabbed it anyway.
I’ve really messed up, God. I lost You somewhere along the way and bad decisions have ended me up in big trouble.
She flipped through the pages, reading a verse here and a verse there until her eyes rested in Ecclesiastes. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.
She jumped as the door to the veranda swung open.
“Lunch will be ready in a few minutes, Casey.”
“Thank you, Shirley. I’ll be in soon.” She liked her host family. Jim was sparse and lean with skin like leather on a well-used chair. Probably in his fifties she guessed considering the silver in his cropped hair. Shirley looked younger by ten years or so and her hair shone like coffee beans.
She turned back to the Bible. So this is how it is, God. I fell in with the wrong crowd and now I’m stuck out here. Depending on what happens at the trial, I could be shunted into a witness protection program forever.
Deep sorrow seized her as it had done every few hours since arriving here. Hunched over, she stifled her sobs. I don’t know what to do, Lord. Show me how to get through this.
She turned back to Ecclesiastes and read a little further. A time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Is that it Lord? Is this my time for weeping and tearing down? Is there any hope for my future? Memories of the shooting ricocheted through her mind. Her boyfriend sprawled on his back, the murderer firing off rounds as he ran, the death wail of sirens.
And then a trickle of peace calmed her emotions. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
I’m sorry, God. I’m sorry for turning my back on You. I know You can bring good out of even the worst situation. Please perform a miracle here.
She looked out at the shimmering landscape, the parched desert and scrubby trees. It’s just a season, isn’t it Lord? Help me to use this time to draw close to You again. I can make it through. I have to for the baby.
She rose to join her hosts for lunch, salty rivers crystallizing on her cheeks. At the same time, she heard a whisper in her soul; the faintest echo of hope. It’s just a season, Casey, just a season.
Bible quotes from Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NIV
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