Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)
By Beth Muehlhausen
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The day was cold but clear, a crisp Saturday in November. Jack and his daughter Carrie walked the barren field, searching as usual for interesting rocks near the creek bank.
Jack discovered a gray-white stone along the ridge of the cornfield and called to Carrie. “Look what I found! Let’s take it back to the house and I’ll break it open for you.”
“What’d you find, Dad?” Carrie ran awkwardly in her plastic red over boots to her dad’s side, and stared at the plainness of the rock. She was looking for pretty rocks: those with silvery flakes that her dad called “fool’s gold,” or red granite pebbles.
This rock had no appeal – none whatsoever. “Dad,” Carrie said as she stood in the shadow of her father’s tall frame, “What’s so special about this old rock?” She stared, looking for a clue. “It’s sorta…boring.”
Jack grinned and gazed up at the clear sky. “Honey, sometimes things aren’t as they seem. See that sunny blue sky up there?”
“Sure.” Carrie squinted as she, too, looked into the deep blue.
“Well, did you ever stop to think that the stars are shining right now – but we just can’t see them because the sun is so bright? Sometimes other things are like that – we can’t see their true beauty. Their sparkles are covered up!”
“Dad, you mean that sad old rock has sparkles hiding inside?”
Jack squatted beside her daughter, cradling the rock in his hands. “The thing is, Carrie, I can’t know for sure about this rock. Not like I’m sure the stars are twinkling out there in space. But I think this plain exterior is hiding something on the inside. Sort of like how it was…” Jack paused for a moment and searched his daughter’s face. “Well, sort of like how it was with your mama last summer.”
Their eyes met for an instant, and Carrie knew exactly what he was talking about. Mama suffered with depression for so long – as long as Carrie could remember. And then in June, when school was out, she started attending a neighborhood Bible study, and something happened.
Mama said she met Jesus face-to-face last summer. Carrie could see a difference. It was like Mama’s depression was a shell that cracked, broke apart, and fell off – leaving her beautiful soft, tender heart exposed and free.
“Really, Dad? You think this rock is like – Mama?” She stared again at the drabness of the uneven exterior, wondering if there could be a heart of gold inside.
They began the trek back to the house. “Yes, I do. Your grandpa was a rock hound, you know. He taught me how to spot rocks like this. He called them ‘geodes’.”
Carrie thought about what her mother told her, just last week. “Sometimes people aren’t always what they appear to be on the outside, Carrie. Only Jesus knows a person’s real identity, down underneath. He’s the One who opens our hearts…and sets us free.”
They walked in silence for a while, each absorbed by the clear sunshine and invigorating air. Their feet crunched on clods of stiff, frozen dirt and leftover corn stubble. Finally, Carrie spoke.
“Dad, can I hold the rock? Can I carry it?”
They both stopped walking. “Of course, honey! Here…” Jack carefully placed the rock in Carrie’s cupped hands. Her bright red mittens cradled it for a minute, and then she brushed off some lingering pieces of black earth.
“Poor rock – it doesn’t know it’s going to be broken open,” she murmured. Her dad smiled and patted her on the back.
“C’mon, honey, we’re almost home. That little old rock has been waiting a long time for this day.”
Carried trudged along on the rough ground, holding the rock carefully with both hands. She led the way and her dad followed…right on into the tool shed.
“Where should I put it, Dad?” Carried asked, her eyes bright with curiosity.
“Well, let’s see, how about in the small vise over there. It’ll hold it for us.”
Carrie flinched as the hammer struck its blow. She wondered what it might feel like to be the rock.
“Now loosen the vise, Carrie, so we can check out the crack.”
The rock had been split down the middle, and fell into two pieces. Carrie carefully pulled them apart, holding her breath.
Perfectly formed crystal rods greeted her astonished eyes. She ran outside, calling over her shoulder: “Dad! C’mon! We’ve got to show Mama the REAL rock!”
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