Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sizzle (05/02/13)
TITLE: Fault Line
By Carolyn Ancell
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It had begun in joy. She had been then (and still was) a liturgical dancer who expressed her prayer in movement. She was a professional, having written two books and many articles on sacred dance, taught and performed throughout the United States and Australia. At first, he had been one of her students. The joy and common endeavor had led to friendship, then marriage. Shortly after the marriage, however, he became involved with a group of people who believed they received private revelations of spiritual truth directly from St. Joseph. One of the things that St. Joseph soon uttered was, "Stop your pagan dancing in the aisles."
Ralph first stopped dancing himself; then asked Moll to stop. She felt her work to be gift from God, and a task given to her by God to bring people to offer their whole being to the Lord--body, mind, and spirit--in a living sacrifice of praise and worship. Should she stop out of obedience to Ralph, her husband? She sought the advice of clergy and friends; and she took the matter constantly to the Lord in prayer. The answer to her prayer and seeking was always the same: the work serves the Lord; the work glorifies God. What was she to do?
Soon Ralph began leaving pamphlets on the kitchen counter, with notes attached: "you are on a path to the fires of hell" and "you will be sorry when you die."
She began to doubt and question her own sanity and spirituality. Was she going to sizzle forever in hell for doing what she felt the Lord was calling her to? Friends counseled her that what Ralph was doing was emotional abuse, that she should seek a divorce. But divorce was not something she would ever consider. She had promised "for better or for worse," and she remembered that her mother always said, "Honey, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
Fifteen long years passed. She was making the best of it. The abuse continued (if it was't about the liturgical dance, it was about her church work, or her friends, or her family), but she hardly heard it anymore.
Then one day, Ralph asked if she would file for a divorce from him! He was giving up on her, he had found another woman, but he did not think his family would approve of his filing for divorce. She had made lemonade for so long, it actually took awhile for her to make sense of it all.
Finally she did file. She was the villain. His family shook accusing fingers at her. She was deeply grateful for the quiet support of her friends. Now, today, she was driving to the courthouse to finalize everything. She was startled when she walked into the courtroom how much it looked like the little church of her youth with its dark burnished wooden pew-like seats, and a kind-looking fellow in a black robe presiding up front.
The deed was accomplished in seconds. No sounds or smells of hell-fire sizzling the ends of her hair. No screams of anguish pulsing in her eardrums. No sense of abandonment by God. Rather, the smell of roses greeted her as she walked out and down the courthouse steps into the cool late morning air. A gentle breeze seemed to lift and carry her. Clouds in her mind began to lift as well. God loved both Ralph and her; they had both tried in their own ways to make the marriage work; but his words and actions had been abusive and destructive. Now, apart, maybe they could both find healing and peace.
Driving past their old tiny apartment, Moll noticed that the trucks and heavy equipment had accomplished their work. The apartment was gone. All that remained was fresh fertile ground.
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