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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Day's End (01/01/14)

TITLE: Wide Awake
By Theresa Santy
01/08/14


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More than an hour after my head hit the pillow, I’m wide awake.

Images from this morning replay in my mind…the ladle, the soup, and the Styrofoam cups. And sunshine thawing the grass and so many pairs of hands and feet. Homemade tamales sit piled high on a tray, while a long line of men and women—mere shadows of humanity—humbly wait to be fed. I’m sure I can see Jesus inside the depths of their tired eyes.

These images will not allow me to sleep. The most haunting ones repeat, like the one of the wide-eyed young man with sunburned cheeks. The man approaches, his steps heavy and unsteady, as if he’s not walking at all, but falling forward, helplessly sliding down a slippery slope. For heaven’s sake, he couldn’t have been a day over twenty-five! Was he new to the streets? Starving? Or just trying to figure out how on earth his life came to this?

Lord, that was so many hours ago. There’s nothing I can do right now. Please clear my mind so I can rest.

But the images keep coming, like the one of the pregnant woman sitting on her bed of blankets. Surrounded by everything she owns, she leans against a tree, smiling, as if she was relaxing by the pool. And then I see Shannon, the woman who launched this ministry. Her youngest child sits on her hip and her other three prance through the park as Shannon pours out abundant love on her homeless friends.

A large black man approaches her, his hands stuffed into his pockets. “It was pretty cold last night.”

She smiles softly. “Were you able to get into the cold-weather shelter?”

“Nah. We didn’t make it in last night.”

“Too full?”

“Yeah.”

Silence. Sunshine. The food line progressing.

I bend over the giant pot of Posole, the rich, red, steamy broth drenching my senses. I keep scooping, hoping it will never run out, like Jesus’ baskets of bread and fish. A woman screams. “Hey, that’s my bag! Get away from my bag!” Shannon tries to console her. That man did not mean to mistake her personal belongings as a bag of trash.

I continue ladling, cup after cup. I collect a scoop of hominy and top it off with a heaping scoop and a half of broth. A woman in line exclaims, “These people are going to be blessed. They don’t have to come here and do this. God is going to bless them.”

“Actually,” replies the man standing next to her, “It’s what we’re supposed to do. We are all supposed to help each other.”

I turn and smile. It’s David. He used to be a journalist for a local paper. Now he’s homeless. And he’s right—we are not doing more than what we are asked. This is the least that we can do.

Our food runs out. How many have we fed? Thirty? Forty? The images are sketchy from here...some time spent mingling and David smiling, pointing to a clear plastic bag with a striped Fedora resting on top. “That and what I’m wearing is everything I own.” I watch a ball belonging to one of Shannon’s children roll into traffic. David goes after it. “I love to play in the street,” he says, laughing.

Then the prayer circle, homeless hands linked with sheltered ones. My longtime friend Raquel and I smile at each other. When was the last time the two of us held hands? Shannon says a short prayer thanking God for allowing his love to shine on the park this morning.

“Amen!” rings through the park.

The most brutal image comes up next, the one where we walk away, while everyone else sits and stands in place. They just watch us pass by. We might as well have slipped into another dimension because once we drove off our lives were once again separated from theirs. I moved on to run errands, while they…what? Waited for the police to come and do another sweep of the park?

And now I lie in bed wide awake, wondering how long those weather-beaten faces continued to stare into space. Have our friends been able to stay warm since sundown? How many of them are able to see God’s love even now, in the dark of night?


(Non-Fiction)


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This article has been read 570 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Tracy Nunes 01/10/14
LOVED it! The vivid, erratic memories are very evocative of half asleep thoughts. I could see it just as you described it. Excellent writing!
Jan Ackerson 01/10/14
I’d love to have your input into the free writing lessons available on the FaithWriters forums. This week’s lesson is on writing devotionals, and next week will cover writing on topic for the weekly challenge. Look for it at http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=67, or if you’re on Facebook, you can “like” Faithwriters Writing Lessons.
Lillian Rhoades 01/10/14
I relived the day with you. The images were "picture" perfect, and without question you were on topic. Great ending, too.
CD (Camille) Swanson 01/11/14
Oh my gosh! This was so painfully poignant, it tugged on my heartstrings and didn't let go. Your words and the images, so true, so spot on. I often wonder about what happens to these individuals as we walk away into our "comfy" beds, and they have to scamper and search for shelter.
This is an award winner for me, by far the best descriptive piece about fellow brothers and sisters, who...there but for the grace of God go I...and it's told with a heart filled with love.

Excellent piece, and if this doesn't take first place...I'm awarding it to you myself!

God bless~
Danielle King 01/13/14
And I'll second the above comment. I'll join forces and give you the winning award. There are some truly amazing entries this week, but to me this one is exceptional. You captured the atmosphere superbly, and with all the little details pulled me right into the sorry plight of those homeless people. To know this is a factual piece makes it all the more poignant. Thank you for reminding me how easily any one of us could find ourselves in such a situation.
Linda Goergen01/15/14
I join CD Swanson and Danielle King in voting this a true winner! It was so vividly powerful in its vision and message and grabbed the reader’s heart! I pray this motivates readers to do more than just feel sorry for the homeless—but to find some way to do something to help alleviate their suffering. It would be nice if this were fiction and no such situations existed, but we all know better. Thank you for the powerful reminder!
CD (Camille) Swanson 01/16/14
Congratulations!

God bless~
Lillian Rhoades 01/16/14
Well done! Congratulations!!!
Judith Gayle Smith01/16/14
I went to work one morning and encountered a homeless man propped up against a dumpster. He was frozen to death. How long had he sat there, exhausted, no doubt hungry - and so tragically alone? I praise God for people who take God seriously, caring for His children.

Thank you for your heart and congratulations!
Hugs in, through and because of Him. Judi
Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
Margaret Kearley 01/17/14
Oh, this is so painful to read that it hurts. Thank you for portraying such truth so vividly and with such enormous challenge. I am glad this wonderful piece was placed, because it deserves it but also because many will read it. God bless you.
Charla Diehl 01/17/14
Thank you for this moving and gripping entry. Helping others is a humbling experience.I must ditto all the above comments and pray that your story stirs people to reach out to others as you have. So glad this placed on the EC list--it's a very deserving piece.
Bea Edwards 01/19/14
Oh my you reached into my soul with this one.
We went down to a homeless area this last Christmas morning attempting to share a little love and the hopelessness visible in the eyes of many who we spoke with was heart wrenching.

Beautifully illustrated piece of conviction.
Melinda Melton 01/21/14
This is wonderful. You have a way of putting us in the story, using all of our senses. Well done and congratulations.