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The Home for Christian Writers! Matthew 6:33
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Somber skies matched my gray mood that day. A day not filled with wonder, but rather a distaste for the mediocrity that engulfed my life. What happened? I asked myself, not at all expecting an answer. However, an answer did come and in a most unexpected form.
“This seat taken?”
A question uttered seconds from my own musings. I hadn’t even noticed anyone near me. I looked up into the warm, brown eyes of a gentleman. Now, I find it amusing that I would use the word, gentleman, for that is a word long past its time. However, if ever there were a gentleman, this man was. Everything about him exuded a sense of peace and honor. I couldn’t refuse. So, I said, “No.” The only thing I could think to say-- and me a woman never at a loss for words. Yet, this very strange day, no was all I said.
The man gently pulled the chair from the table. Every action and word was surrounded in serenity and a knowing. He had the look of timelessness about him, but wore plain clothes - brown trousers and a blue sweater. Nothing at all extraordinary.
So, this very ordinary man sat across from me and had my full attention. And I knew he intended to have it. Yet, he’d said nothing to demand it. And I. . . well. . . I said nothing.
“Life is fascinating. Is it not?”
I wondered at his question. Was he making a statement or indeed asking me? Of course, my life was anything but exciting. A grayness had invaded my soul, darkening my dreams and leaving me with a mere existence. I remember vaguely wondering if my face had betrayed me and I looked like the boredom I waded through.
Silence reigned, and I realized I needed to answer. “I guess it can be.” I felt myself shudder at such an uncourageous answer--an answer full of avoidance. I was afraid to state the truth and admit to this gentle stranger or myself that my life had been reduced to neutrality. Not bad, not good, but adequate. A successful businesswoman with a nice husband and family, a nice home, a nice life and not at all fascinating. His brown eyes pierced through me and I knew that I had not fooled him.
“Life is a gift. A treasure given so that you can explore and learn and most of all seek.”
Again, silence thundered between us. What was he talking about? I had earned a Masters in English, was published in the most accepted literary magazines, and taught at the University. I had learned from the best. My husband and I had taken many vacations to exotic locales and explored the ancient streets of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. But seek? Seek what, I wondered. Yet, I said nothing.
The stranger pressed on. “You know, many fill their lives with things and places, but few seek the more important matters. How have you fared?”
Had he read my mind? And why was he asking me these pointed questions that divided my very marrow? The result--I, a woman not easily rattled, was totally undone. Annoyed, I fought back. “Well, I sought an education and achieved it with high honors. My writing is very well received. My husband and I are respected in the community and our church. I would say we have done well.” My confidence rose as I stated my defense. That is until I looked into his eyes. They were filled with such compassion that I caught my breath as my pride melted.
“You have all you need?” His tone matched the somber day and my gray mood.
I looked away and thought of the question before me. I truly did have all I needed or wanted in the material sense. My husband and I had worked hard. Financially, we were set. Yet, here I was, a mature woman who had achieved so much, but felt like I had so little. Something was missing, but I didn’t know what.
Frustrated, I rebelled in anger. What gave this man the right to go around harassing complete strangers? In a final burst of resentment, I decided to let him know my life was none of his business. I looked up, ready to tell him, only to find that he was gone.
My mind reeled. Who or what had visited me? Or was I losing my mind? I looked around to see if anyone had noticed me having a conversation with myself. But all were involved in their own small worlds. Hurriedly, I gathered my books and papers and left.
On the drive home, I replayed every word the stranger had spoken. As his words echoed through my being, haunting me with their truth, rain began pouring from the heavens. I turned on my wipers, only to hear them sound a steady beat of ‘seek, seek, seek, seek.’ I wanted to turn them off, but couldn’t for now sheets of water flowed over my car.
Finally, I reached home. Now, I thought, the haunting would cease and I could step back into my life. I settled down into my reading chair and grabbed the latest book I had been devouring. I flipped through the pages and began reading, but my mind refused to get into the story, dwelling instead on the stranger’s questions. As the book faded from my view, I saw the vanity of my life.
The books I had read-- written by authors who only dreamed of having a life and read by those who wanted more out of theirs - failed to answer the questions that confronted me that day. The clock on the mantle picked up where the windshield wipers had left off and again I heard the persistent command – seek, seek, seek.
In desperation, I threw my book at the clock. The mocking continued. Restless, I went to the bookshelf. There, shoved in the back next to Moby Dick, was my Bible, dusty and unused, it beckoned to me. I could picture old Ahab, his arm moving in motion with the seek, seek, seek, of the clock, pointing and compelling me to pick up the old book.
In anger, I grabbed the Bible in an attempt to appease whatever Strange Presence was haunting me. Settling back into my chair, I opened the Bible. Its pages were darkened with age and neglect. As I opened it, the musty smell of oldness rose from its pages. The clock ticked on - seek, seek, seek.
I wanted to scream, when my eyes fell on words I vaguely remembered from my youth. The Lord is my shepherd . . . I finished reading the Psalm. A peace fell over me and I no longer heard the clock and its commands. I thumbed through the book with its ancient words and stories.
My soul paused at the edge of eternity as I came to the New Testament. Reading on, my heart leapt as I saw the words Seek ye first the Kingdom of God . . . Could that be the answer to the day’s visitation?
I struggled on. I had been in church all my life. Yet, I realized belief had eluded me and I had merely followed the ritual of religion. My heart had never been won over. I had considered the Bible a collection of ancient stories used only to reinforce moral behavior.
My heart and mind battled throughout the night. I have done many good things: gave to charity, fed the poor, and attended church faithfully. Yet, even as I reasoned, my heart lay heavy and dead within me. I pictured it gray and tired. Lifeless.
Then, just before dawn I began reading the Book of John. The concept of Jesus, the Word, being with God before all things pierced through the reason of my mind and entered my heart. I hungrily continued reading and when I read that Jesus had come not to judge the world, but to save that which was lost belief shattered the darkness in my heart. I envisioned the crucifixion and saw the Son of God looking at me with the same eyes of compassion I had seen earlier that day. Time stopped. The haunting stopped. And I was found. As the Son of God rose in my heart, I greeted the new day as a new creation.
And my Life began.
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Reader Count & Comments
03 Jun 2005
I loved this story. It challenged me to remember to keep seeking God. Nicely done!
29 May 2005
I am not sure if my first review was submitted correctly so I shal repeat it. A moving story and well written.
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