Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: "Splash" 4-11-13 Deadline (04/04/13)
By Leola Ogle
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The sounds of the city, although annoying to some people, holds a fascination for me. It speaks of life and busyness and purpose. Today, though, I yearn for serenity, something to quiet the incessant clamoring of my mind – so many things vying for my attention.
I feel so alone. After years of a troubled marriage, I am left with two teenage daughters to support. My three other children are grown and away from home. I feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. If not for dear friends who rented me this home for under-market rates, I’m not sure where we would be.
After my busy and frustrating day, I have a moment to myself. I stand on the cool decking by the pool and try to shut myself off from my surroundings. I stick my right foot into the tepid water. It’s as warm as bath water. My sigh floats in the still air. Closing my eyes, I tilt my face to the sun. Its warmth feels like a gentle caress.
A small dust devil kicks up leaves and dirt against my legs. The dry wind feels like tiny fingernails scraping my flesh, adding to my irritation. A buzzing sound distracts me. I open my eyes as a small cactus wren flies past my cheek and alights on the water. Not even a tiny splash erupts. The only evidence of the bird’s presence upon the water is a small ripple spreading from its body. It drinks and flies away without acknowledging my still figure.
I raise my hands over my head as if to worship my Creator. My fingers touch as I rise upon my toes to propel myself upward and forward. I enter the water with a splash, the sound muffled the instant my head goes below the surface. The tepid water is surprisingly cool and refreshing. I plunge until my fingers brush the coarseness of the pool’s nine-foot bottom.
Opening my eyes, I feel the momentary sting of chlorine. With an effortless movement, I twist my body around. The color of the cement walls gives the water a shimmering blue aura. I feel enshrouded in a cocoon, escaping for a moment from the elements of my environment -- protected, sustained, like a baby in a womb.
Gentle movements of my hands and feet allow me to remain in the pool’s depth until my lungs begin the first burning for oxygen. Placing my feet against the bottom, I push. My body rises to the surface and breaks free with small splashes. I tread water for several more minutes before swimming to the cement steps at the shallow end.
I exit the water facing the same problems as when I entered. Nothing has changed. After years of acclimating to the desert heat, the warm breeze flowing across my wet skin chills me, or perhaps it’s my circumstances that chill me. I shiver as I wrap myself in a towel. A sob rumbles in my chest, but I choke it down, although nothing stops the tears that spring to my eyes.
I stand until my body warms. Soon I shirk the towel, and the blazing sun hits my back and shoulders like a masseur’s probing fingers. Evenings don’t cool off much in the desert. Unable to stop it, my mind floods with the many cares besetting me. My lips quiver, and I manage to whisper a single word, “Jesus.”
It comes then, that gentle, soothing presence that stills the storm within me. Like splashes of gentle raindrops, it quiets my soul. I know I am not alone. I am enshrouded by the calming assurance of His love.
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