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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Personal Peace (06/01/06)

TITLE: In Stillness, In Peace
By Ann Grover


Marit paused to catch her breath, and she brushed a strand of silver hair out of her eyes. She picked up the bucket of water again and headed toward the house.

“What took you so long?” demanded Bjorn.

“I’m not young anymore, Bjorn. I’m sorry.”

“Humph,” Bjorn turned back to staring morosely into the fire while Marit filled the kettle and swung it into the flames.

While she cut thick slices of bread and set out a bowl of pickled fish, Marit remembered when climbing the fjord paths had taken little effort and packing heavy wooden buckets of water had barely beaded her brow. She had been lithe and agile then, and very much in love with Bjorn.

“Supper,” she said gently, not wishing to startle him from his reverie.

Bjorn came to the table. With no acknowledgment of Marit or the Almighty, he spread his bread with butter and stabbed chunks of fish. He gulped swigs of tea as he ate ravenously. Marit sipped quietly and nibbled at a bit of cheese.

It was always the same cautious dance, being careful not to ignite the smoldering fire within Bjorn. Marit knew his present quietness could change as quickly as shifting smoke, and for something just as trivial. The rage would erupt, and his venomous reprisals would spew at Marit. It often came as welcome relief when he sought solace from sleep or strong spirits, and she wouldn’t have to bear his fury.

What had caused his bleak despair and volatile temper? Too many years of poor fishing and failed crops on the tiny ledge above the fjord? The long, dark winters clouding his very soul?

Or was it that the midwife had come time after time to attend Marit, only to pull another fragile infant into the light of day, each child breathing its last before nightfall? Had disappointment birthed bitterness within Bjorn, coiling strangling roots around his heart?

Marit watched him as the food took effect, and Bjorn’s shaggy head began to nod. With a grunt, he heaved himself from the table and lumbered back to his place by the fire. Marit cleared the crumbs and the crockery, then sat down to mend Bjorn’s worn work clothes.

Why had they had such opposite responses to the same tragedies, she wondered? While Bjorn became increasingly hostile, Marit felt a peace that enveloped her more each day, sheltering her in a serenity that was as certain as the winds rising from the fjord, as reliable as the snows that blanketed their house each winter.

It wasn’t that Marit was insensitive about their losses. Certainly, she felt doubt when the hay didn’t grow or the barley harvest was inadequate. And each time a child had slipped away, her soul had been rent. Her empty arms had ached and her breasts had swelled needlessly. The tiny graves at the stavechurch still caused her to take a sharp breath.

When the priest had come to sprinkle each downy head, Bjorn would leave, slamming the door. He would return hours, days later, sullen and silent. Consoled by the soothing words of the priest and nourished by a growing peace that strengthened her, Marit had healed alone.

Bjorn suddenly awoke with a gruff snort, startling Marit, and the mending fell from her lap. He glared at her, as if his waking were her fault, and in a sudden epiphany, Marit wondered if he blamed her for the failed crops and the lost children. Without speaking, he moved heavily to the bedroom and shut the door.

Marit sighed and leaned into the embrace of the chair. She should be grateful for the quietness, but she knew it was not peace, but simply evidence of the chasm between Bjorn and herself, Bjorn and God. Bjorn wouldn’t know peace until he could accept his need for it.

What had the priest said? Ah, yes. Be still and know that I am God. God is God. He gives, He takes away. Always with grace, always in love.

I choose to be still. And let the peace of God, peace that I do not understand, reign in my heart.

The fire’s glowing embers danced to a silent lullaby and cast a youthful blush on Marit’s face. Her eyes closed and her breathing slowed.

I see Your face, God. I hear You. I hear my heart. Be still... be still...

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This article has been read 1264 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cassie Memmer06/08/06
Wonderful is the sweet peace available to those who will reach for it, and so sad the pain in those that refuse it. Excellent story, well written.
Sally Hanan06/08/06
I loved the setting of this story, yet it could be anywhere, in any marriage. Great writing, with a deep understanding and portrayal of the preoccupation of satisfying oneself v. resting in the peace of God.
Lori Othouse 06/08/06
This was beautifully told and, I think, could really minister to a lot of hurting couples. A gentle reminder of pain that is not always seen. Great job!
Helen Paynter06/09/06
Beautiful. I love the ending especially.
Marty Wellington 06/10/06
Beautifully told story. Unique setting and character descriptions.
Jessica Schmit06/12/06
One of the reasons why I love reading your pieces is that you are so "God focased." You write a beautiful story that always points towards God. That must speak about you as a person as well. Beautiful job Ann, like usual.
Jan Ackerson 06/12/06
What a wonderful character you've created in Marit! She seemed very real, and her spirit really spoke to me. Lovely.
James Clem 06/12/06
Wonderful contrast of two people reacting differently to the same situation.

I hope you consider posting a mirror story of the same scene so we can see what's inside Bjorn's head. And then weave them together.

You created strong, real characters in a handful of words.
dub W06/12/06
Very visual, great characters.
Pat Guy 06/12/06
Another woven tapestry of emotion and life - of God the golden thread that completes the picture. Beautiful, deep and real. Lovely.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/13/06
You are a master story teller. This is wonderful. I felt as if I were there with them. (And really glad I wasn't). Beautiful job.
Anita Neuman06/14/06
Another masterpiece! I love the setting and the language. You've done an amazing job portraying it all so eloquently. This is absolutely fabulous!
Sherry Wendling06/14/06
Alive! This poignant story brims with life, as though there is a hidden current of energy rolling beneath the precious, hard-won serenity of your mc. Then, at the end, it bubbles to the surface in her communion with her Lord. "The fire’s glowing embers danced to a silent lullaby and cast a youthful blush on Marit’s face."--Perfect symbolic imagery. Her husband's bitterness batters her from all sides, yet the sap from her connection to the Vine is continually renewing and recreating her. There is so much to ponder here...Awesomely inspiring piece!
Carol Shaffron07/06/06
God our reward . . .