Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)
TITLE: Lilac Scented Sackcloth
By Chely Roach
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Why do they feel the need to make such an ugly experience pretty? I never notice the beauty of the blooms or the symmetry of the gardens; when I leave I cannot recall the gentle cadence of the fountain or the refreshing shade beneath the tulip tree. When I am here I see nothing but the fading image of her face; it’s like the aura before a blinding headache…it begins as a distraction in my peripheral vision…growing larger and more intense as the moments pass. But if I try to look straight at it, it is not there. When I again focus on the horizon, the aura reappears. After a while, it’s gone. The absence of the aura brings the pain.
Is that why I am here? Do I miss the pain? There is a certain familiar comfort in it that pulls me back to its bosom, and I am sickened by the paradox that I both love and loathe to welcome it. I miss her so terribly that I ache for the ache of all that remains of her…the waves of grief left in her wake.
It’s deliciously paralyzing.
That is why I don’t come here anymore…I can’t afford the luxury of indulging her memory.
And what is the point? I methodically trace my fingers along the inscription in the hard, granite stone. I know her name. I know the dates. I know that the few bars of musical notes are from her favorite song—Satin Doll. But over the years I have realized that she’s not here; though the masochist in me sometimes doubts that she is there with You. What is the point of lingering in a garden of stone; among these monuments of death and loss? I have drenched this small plot of earth with a thousand lifetimes of tears…softening the soil with my agony. And for what? She is still gone. The void she left is still palpable.
When I think of the hours I have spent here—mostly in the spring and the fall—I hate myself for wasting yet another moment of my life. How many times have I come here to lament the whys of it all, yearning for inconceivable answers to questions that are unachievable this side of eternity? Do You despise a wasted life? How many soliloquies did I utter to her—as if she could hear my words, and answer my pleas for her return? All the years that I spoke to her instead of You, did it pain You? Make you yearn to draw me beneath Your wing like a hen shelters her chicks during a storm? I hate that I didn’t trust in You; or pour my heart out to He who made me. I hate that I wasted so much of my life dwelling amongst the dead.
There is one thing I am certain of when I leave this place—the enemy is on my heels; breathing down my neck. He revels in this morbid charade. Long after the mud has been washed from my knees, he enjoys pressing his talons into the flesh of my back; forcing me further and further down into the endless downward spiral of despair and pain and regret. As much as I abhor it, I am compelled to languish in the muck of my abyss…my self-imposed prison. The oppressiveness of the closing walls are so familiar that I submit to them. It is the hell that I know, in a world of unknowns.
I do not belong here.
I beg of You to help me.
Help me fight the wiles of the enemy and the seductive duplicity of this emotional noose. Give me the strength to resist the macabre, self indulgence that repeatedly brings me here.
I am weary of my heels sinking into the soft, cemetery mud. I am weary of laying my head upon her hard, pillow of stone.
Please, remove this torn, irritating sackcloth from my body.
Remove the ashes from my head.
Shine Your face upon me, and bring me into Your Light.
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