Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CHILL (10/29/15)
- TITLE: Higher Altitudes
By Cindy White
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If only she could breathe fresh air...
It had been too long since Brenda had spent time at the cabin once owned by her grandparents. She couldn't ignore its call any longer. The valley danced in and out of sight in her rear view mirror as she navigated the curvy mountain road.
Setback after setback had overshadowed her life in recent years. Divorced and barely scraping by at a job she hated, Brenda faced tough decisions. She had expected her husband would always take care of her. She didn't have a backup plan, and soon she might not have a home.
Although Brenda often talked to God, she sensed a disconnect. Had He been listening? Had she? Maybe she and God could both hear better at higher altitude.
The crunch of the gravel driveway under her tires brought a sense of familiarity. This was her first time coming to the family cabin without family. She was no stranger to loneliness these days, but she craved a different kind of alone.
The scent of pine soothed her aching soul and crisp mountain air filled her lungs. On the agenda for today: feed the squirrels, walk down to the market, find the answers to life, eat fresh baked bread from the market.
Once Brenda had made herself at home, she set off down the rough asphalt road with her pockets full of unsalted peanuts and a hunger for God. She wanted to believe that God had a plan for her life, but years of being torn down left her doubting her worth and abilities.
“Oh, Lord...my life is such a mess and I don't know which way to turn. What am I supposed to do? Where are you? Have you turned your back on me, too?”
Gray squirrels happily accepted her offerings and scurried along. Bread and a few supplies in hand, Brenda began the trek back up the hill. She made a mental note to consider a gym membership. Her eyes took in every detail of the scenery. Pine cones in varying stages of decay. Moss covered rocks. The pine needle blanket with red-barked Manzanita adornments. The bluest of skies holding up marshmallow clouds brought a smile. Nearby, a dark mass began overtaking the blue as wind rustled through the pines.
Lungs stretched to the limit, Brenda wondered how Grandma had made this walk nearly every day. She tossed the remaining few peanuts on the deck for the waiting jays. Such aggressive birds.
Brenda sliced and buttered the warm bread while the soup simmered. The wind smacked against the old cabin as the sky grew dark and the air damp. A chill sent shivers through her body. In her haste to escape home, she had forgotten to pack a sweatshirt. Lighting a fire would require kindling and logs, finding some matches, and figuring out the flue.
Perhaps she'd find something warm in the bedroom.
Brenda's search resulted in finding her grandmother's old sweater in a bottom drawer. She wrapped herself in the warm comfort of the aged wool. Memories and should-have-beens gripped her, the emotions catching her off guard. “Jesus, why can't life be as simple as a warm sweater?”
The storm beat against the cabin and shook the windows and her spirit. The cold was now too much for the sweater. “Talk to me, God! What are we going to do about my life?”
Brenda thought about the squirrels. They were so busy that afternoon, and were now in a safe, secure place, unshaken by the storm. Today she'd seen death and decay where nature discarded its waste. Moss grew where sunlight didn't shine and nothing visible happened. She related far more to the rotting debris than to the busy squirrels.
In the height of the storm, she heard God's voice. God called her to action.
Brenda grabbed an old towel and went out to gather wood from the shed. Soon a roaring fire warmed the cabin and her heart.
The answer she sought came, not in waiting, but in doing.
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