Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)
TITLE: Journey's End
By Birdie Courtright
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His journey had been difficult and miserably lonely. How long had he traveled? It felt like years; hard lean years. Yet he’d managed to push through the days and always at the point when he could go no further, there he’d find a respite waiting just ahead; a welcome stand of shade-giving trees, a trickling stream to refresh and sooth, an easily captured meal. He’d rest briefly, regaining strength enough to travel onward.
This morning, something was different. Change was in the air. He could feel it. Anticipation began to rise as he cleared the meadow and began the steep upward climb to the crag above. From there, he would have an observation point of the terrain that lay ahead. His gait quickened as he neared the long sought after vista that would reveal his future.
“All for my King” He roared as he pushed himself upward with all of his strength. His legs were weak and every muscle strained from the journey of days passed, but the end would soon be within his sight and he raced toward it. Nothing would stop him now.
“You’ve made it, Lion!” The little bird was perched at the peak, “What a view…” She hopped from rock to rock, gazing out toward the horizon. That bird…she was always there, taunting him to continue the journey. In a few seconds, he’d be close enough to spring. He calculated; envisioning the one swift movement it would take to nab a tasty feathered morsel.
He sprang forward as she took to the air, laughing as she narrowly escaped his massive jaws. One white feather floated silently to the valley floor.
“Not today, Lion. The King has a different plan for my day…but look!”
The weary Lion turned his gaze to the east.
In awe, he sank into the rock and closed his eyes.
The voice was clearly his imagination, wasn’t it? It emanated from everywhere, reverberating inside of him. The syllables were curiously melodic. He understood every word as though he’d spoken the language all his life yet he’d never heard this wonderful sound until now.
Like a stream bouncing gently over the rocks of a riverbed, the voice continued. He dare not open his eyes.
“This is who you are. Through this journey, you’ve pleaded in earnest for your mind to be unstrained to see what lies before you. I’ve called to you from the hungriest places of your soul. You heeded my voice, following swiftly, keeping pace in the treacherous terrains that I’ve led you through. You followed relentlessly; tired, bleeding, wounded, and thirsty. I’ve prepared a place for you. Look to the hill, faithful one with a Lion’s heart…my light shines forth as a beacon calling to those in the wilderness. Come, the gates are open. In this city on the hill, shall I establish you; a new generation.”
Jude rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Was it just another beautiful dream? Every night, the lion traveled on in Jude’s sleep. Was this his glimpse? He sat up, listening intently as to the little bird perched outside his window sill. Something familiar seemed to gild the edges of her cheerful song, something melodic and soothing.
He couldn’t explain the joy that began to well up inside of him as he tossed aside the blankets, springing from his bed. Peering eastward toward the hill, he saw it; Jasmine, sapphire and gold. Spires rose above the city glinting like diamonds against the pink horizon.
The New Jerusalem. The city on the hill…at last, the new millennium had dawned.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. Was it a dream? Jude, the lion-hearted opened the window
Inside the gates, throngs of joyous people gathered around the magnificent throne.
“Welcome to the courts of the King, Jude. I’ve been waiting for you.” The King’s overwhelming joy at Jude’s arrival was apparent. “Open your hand.”
Jude fell to his knees. A single white feather rested in his palm; evidence that the nights’ journey was no dream.
A woman stepped toward him, adorned in a brilliant white robe. “Welcome Jude the Lion-Hearted.
You’ve made it.” Smiling toward the King, she gently retrieved the feather from Jude’s hand.
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