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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: The year of the onion
By Melanie Kerr


1988 was the year of the onion. The Chinese might record their years in terms of animals, my husband might remember who won or lost the league cup, but for my family it was all down to vegetables.

My father was a keen gardener. When we moved into a town house, the gardens front and back were too small to do anything creative or practical. The tiny space at the front was taken up with a green bush and a few daffodil bulbs that blazed yellow in the spring time. The back, because it was the only patch of soil within a mile radius had become a necessary place for the neighbourhood cats to do their private business, hiss at one another and pick fights. My father added his name to the list of people waiting for allotments in a field, near a disused railway line a mile or two away from the house.

Once he was granted his strip of land, the digging and sowing, weeding and thinning, watering and harvesting began. Through out the seasons we took carrier bags of home grown carrots, or cabbages, or broad beans to church every week, to hand out to people. He never tried to grow anything exotic like artichokes or celery, but things that needed the minimum of fuss.

1988 was a good year for onions. I remember coming home from school one day to find my father sleeping in a chair. His legs were stretched out in front of him, his arms were crossed over his chest and he was snoring. It wasn't a rumbling kind of noise, but a gentle splutter of air and a light whistle.

"He's been digging up the onions," explained my mother as she shunted between the oven and the kitchen sink, filling a kettle and lighting the gas burner. "He's left them in the back garden to dry. Why don't you take a look?"

I went out to duly admire the onions. There were a dozen or so in a tidy pile beside the door, wet and glistening, newly ripped from the soil, sunbathing in the late afternoon heat. What was so impressive about that?

"You might want to look up a little bit, towards the back gate," advised my mother through the open kitchen window, her hands busy with a dish towel and a chipped plate.

I lifted my gaze. There was vast sea of onions stretching to the back gate, every shade between pale yellow and light brown. There were hundreds of them, a myriad of shapes and sizes, scattered on the ground. A pungent smell permeated the air. A cat sat on the wall looking distressed and unhappy.

There was nothing impressive about the dozen onions beside the back door, but lifting my gaze and seeing hundreds of them packed into the back garden was awesome. There were more than enough onions to meet our needs and give bags of them away.

So many times, as Christians, we focus on the small neat pile of God's gifts beside the kitchen door of our lives. We fail to lift our gaze and see the glorious abundance that God gives. We see and claim so little, when our lives could be overflowing with more than enough resources to meet our needs, with plenty to give away to others.

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This article has been read 1921 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Grover06/15/06
"We fail to lift our gaze and see the glorious abundance that God gives. We see and claim so little..."

Excellent truth. I might have set off the first sentence by placing it alone, as an attention-grabber. Minor. Well written.
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/15/06
I enjoyed this! Well-written and kept my attention all the way through. Good point.
James Clem 06/15/06
Good finish. I don't think the phrase "as Christians" adds to the final paragraph.
Removing it makes it come across less preachy.
Not sure how the character didn't notice that "pungent smell" as soon as they went out the door. (I think the story would work a bit better with something other than onions.) Loved the distressed cat. Nice detail.
Not meaning to come across so critical, this was very good and a solid ending.
Sherry Wendling06/15/06
Immensely flavorful, and a joy to read! Wonderful descriptive details, such as the cats laying claim to the back lot, the father's gentle snore, the sea of onions in a rainbow of earth tones. I could sense the generous spirit of the household--a timeless lesson! Great stuff!
Suzanne R06/17/06
I love the conclusion - and the story is well done too. I have one lone onion (reddish coloured) sitting on top of the fridge right now, and next time I look at it, I'll remember the lesson you taught us. This would make a great short talk at church (what we used to call a 'Children's Talk, but which was often as memorable as the sermon, dare I say it) ... although think of the props?!!
Lynda Schultz 06/19/06
A clever way to present the message. And, not only do we have an abundance of God's "onions" to enjoy, but we have the layers that each of those "onions" blesses us with. Good job.
Jan Ackerson 06/21/06
What a wonderful lesson! I love the way you told a very interesting story, then gave us a great "kicker."