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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Funny (10/04/12)

TITLE: Come Unto Me
By Loren T. Lowery


The 200 year-old, hand-hewn limestone church sat isolated on the corner of First Street and Main in Blackberry, Wisconsin. Ruby and gold leaves lay dewy quiet on its expanse of yellowing lawn. Morning mist, reddened by an awakening autumn sun, shrouded it with a shawl of serene solitude. A bell tower gently chimed five times, scattering a covey of doves into startled flight.

Parallel to the street and beneath the thinning skeletal canopy of ancient maples, a broken and gray sidewalk gave itself to its duty of reflective quiet walks around the hallowed building and grounds.

On this particular morning, Victoria Allison, wrapped in a brown tweed jacket to temper the chilled air, walked in meditative thoughts along this broken pathway. She stopped at the apex of the walkway leading up to the church. Her eyes searched the closed oaken door, the steeple, bathed in rose colored light from the sun; and, the doves - now fluttering back in graceful cooing sweeps to roost once more.

A gust of wind scudded the front page of a discarded newspaper down the sidewalk, its single page a wavering banshee rustling forward to skim her legs. She glanced the bold headlines: ALLISON HOME INVASION MURDER TRIAL STARTS TODAY! Her heart quickened. The paper released its skirmishing hold and clattered on in a stiff, taunting, ghost-like tilt-o-whirl.

Victoria took a deep breath and moved forward and up the three concrete steps to the door. Her scared hand turned its brass handle. It gave; and with a gentle push, the door came open in an oddly intolerant but welcoming squeak. The narthex was empty and likewise the chapel. Closing the door, she blinked to adjust to the dimness. Several tiny pin-points of light from flickering votives at the altar welcomed her while the scents of Holy Water from a nearby sliver fount, candle wax and flowering mums pulled her forward.

The chapel, chilled with morning air, achingly came alive with musky aromatic creaks and groans as an old furnace in the basement. The sun inched upwards sending tendrils of faceted light from the stained glass window above the altar. This light and the warmth of the scented air gave the church a wondrous and solitary beauty.

Fingers moist from the fount’s Holy Water, Victoria touched her forehead, lips and heart and walked down the nave to the altar where she genuflected and knelt before the flickering votives. Making the sign of the cross, she lit three of the votives. Each flame piercing an abyss of grief, darkened by loss. A gulf shadowed by shadows of what might have been. Husband and two sons: three lives never to know their future - lives stopped in full flow by the madness of another.

But for a welted scar that ran across her brow, her faced was unlined and never wavered in its attitude of bowed reverence. Her lips moved in silent whispers, edging upwards at times to an enigmatic smile of sublime beauty. A hurt soul bowed at the altar, bathed in the piercing, healing light of faith, belief and truth.

It had not always been that way. A year ago, Victoria would have labeled herself a skeptic; critical of religious beliefs whose only substance seemed rooted in enigmas and sentimental emotions. At one point, she’d confessed to a priest her doubts that God even existed. “I’m not an atheist,” she explained, “just agnostic. If there is a God, he is simply too distant to defend all that faith claims him to be.”

But then, two men broke into her home. Her husband, a surgeon, was thought to keep drugs there. Untrue as it was, it did not stop the men from killing her family and severely wounding her.

Lying in the hospital, fighting for her life, her enigmatic God suddenly became real. Born in the crucible of indescribable pain, her agnostic beliefs transcended to a tenable faith in a supreme, invisible God.

“It’s odd,” she told the same priest she’d once confessed her doubts, “I was mad at a God I couldn’t believe in, yet I blamed Him. Even stranger though, He didn't rebuke me my anger or doubts; He only said to give it all to Him, my loss, my pain - everything. And suddenly an immeasurable peace came over me.”

Now, at the altar in prayer, she knew God’s grace would infinitely sustain her in the following months. So odd, she reflected, and scarce could take it in, how a simple act of surrender could do so much.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 10/11/12
This is beautifully descriptive, from the way you have set the atmosphere right on through to profiling your character's thoughts - but the only way I can connect it with the topic is in the area of funny/peculiar rather than funny/amusing. Maybe I'm slow, but this piece belongs as the introduction to what could be a very absorbing book.
C D Swanson 10/12/12
Very well written descriptive entry...interesting and absorbing.

God Bless~
Dolores Stohler10/13/12
Your story is filled with beautiful poetic description and I could picture everything so clearly. Autumn was alive and burning with emotion. A word of caution thiough, sometimes when trying to create the right atmosphere we can use too many adjectives. I thought the descriptions were a bit overwhelming and didn't really match the story of redeption told here. But you are a good writer and I did enjoy reading this.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/17/12
You did a great job with this piece. I could really relate to the MC. You were definitely on topic not the ha-ha funny but the wow it's odd funny Nice job.
Myrna Noyes10/18/12
That first lovely paragraph drew me right in to this beautiful story! Your vivid descriptions put me in the place and in the moment, and the air of mystery at the beginning was very intriguing. I was wondering as I read where the "funny" came in, but then realized you were going for the "odd and unexpected" meaning. CONGRATULATIONS on your E.C. with this powerful piece!
Beth LaBuff 10/18/12
Your hometown setting is like a scene from a Thomas Kincade painting [I wanted to visit this place] and so completely contrasts with the horrible murders that devastated your MC. Your creativity in interpreting "Funny" is masterful. I'm so very pleased to see your Editor's Choice award, Loren.
Karen Pourbabaee 10/18/12
I am intrigued by this piece. Your abundant, crisp and beautiful descriptions serve the setting and place the reader vividly in the moment, as well as allude to symbolic parallels in the MC's life and the general theme of your work. I agree with Noel that it seems like a wonderful novel introduction. It is masterfully crafted!
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/18/12
So sorry I missed this on a quick jaunt through the entries. I would known immediately that it was my lyricist friend. You do description better than anybody! and I love the message. Congratulations on a much deserved EC.
Leola Ogle 10/18/12
Congrats! Great job! Be blessed!
Bea Edwards 10/19/12
The pictures you draw with words are spectacular! Writing like yours is what created my passion for the written word at age 10 after tackling 'Gone With the Wind.' It was my official entry into bookwormdom.
C D Swanson 10/19/12
Congrats and God Bless~
Lisa Johnson12/27/12
I agree with Noel that this sounds like book material.