Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: Like a Child
By Sandra Petersen
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My business is with God and I must be alone to conduct it.
I move quickly along the first hundred yards of level trail. Grief fuels my steps. As the trail begins to wind upwards, I slow my pace. My husband and I, newborn son cradled in a front pack, hiked up this mountain earlier this summer. The thought drives a knife into my heart.
After about fifteen minutes I arrive at my destination, one I have frequented often in the past two months. Far below, Seagull Lake is a tiny jewel nestled among towering pines. I perch on the ledge, dangling my feet, and tip my face skyward.
Now, God, it’s You and me. I have some questions and I want answers.
Canada geese honk overhead. I strain to catch a glimpse of the V-formation as they flee winter. They seem intruders in this one-sided conversation.
One-sided? I wonder. Are You there, God? Or have You left me like my husband Stan? Stan, who walked out this morning with a suitcase in his hand and a promise to collect his remaining possessions later. Or have You died like my baby son Zach?
“Are You there, God?” I scream to the heavens. “Where are You? Why have You forsaken me?”
Tears flood my eyes. I cry in my loneliness, no one to share the depth of my sorrow. Stan could not understand my grief. Neither could the multitude of well-meaning friends and family who surrounded us for a week, then went on with their lives. I hug my knees and bury my face, moaning and weeping. No one will hear.
“Do You understand, Lord?” I plead.
After some time, I shiver in the chill air of the autumn evening. While I wept, the sky prepared for night. The moon will not appear for an hour, maybe more. I rise to my feet on stiffened legs.
For just a moment I peer over the edge of the precipice. It would be so easy to launch myself headlong onto the rocks below. I contemplate the idea, savoring the thought that I would see my baby again. Or would I? Would this God who has been silent for two months welcome me into His Paradise? Uncertain, I stumble from the edge and turn to the trail.
I was foolish to come here so late in the day. The path has loose gravel and my footing is unsteady. Fear replaces grief and I breathe out panicked puffs which crystallize in the frosty air.
When I quicken my pace, my feet betray me and I fall to my face. Shards of gravel tear at my knees, palms, and cheek. I pull myself to my feet and sway for seconds before plunging headlong down the trail again. Blood streams from my injuries. The throbbing pain slices through the physical numbness I have endured since Zach’s death.
I reach the level ground of the trail head. Fishing my keys from my pocket, I want nothing more than to be enveloped inside the safety of my car. I slip behind the wheel and insert the key in the ignition.
Why am I so afraid?
I turn the key and the radio blares at me. A well-known minister says from the speakers, “I have never suffered the loss of a young son or daughter, and I can’t imagine the ordeal of a grieving parent.”
Why should I listen to you then? I think in anger. I reach for the knob when his next words cause my hand to drop to my side.
“But I know One who has. If you are grieving, He understands. He watched as His Son willingly submitted His body to be mutilated beyond recognition and hung on a cross of tortuous death for your sins.”
I listen and my heart tells me that this is the answer for which I have waited these two months.
“The world can offer you only temporary peace for your pain. He offers you long-lasting peace and the opportunity to see that baby in Heaven someday. You are His child. Come to Him.”
You do understand, Father.
As the minister continues his sermon, I cry fresh tears. I embrace my Savior like a heartbroken child and healing begins in my soul.
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