Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: See (07/22/10)
TITLE: Vision: The Art of Seeing Things Invisible
By Beth Muehlhausen
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Summer erupted in fresh green glory the same week eighteen-year-old Jennie graduated as high school valedictorian. Her mother simultaneously urged her to embrace her emerging passion. “Take these next couple of months to prioritize your writing, Jennie. Your skills deserve to blossom!” She seemed to see inside her daughter’s heart where a creative flame flickered, just waiting for fresh fuel and the empowering wind of the Spirit to create a blaze.
Each golden day drifted into the next, spun from the same gilded skein of hope and promise. Jennie’s skin turned honey-brown, and then almost chocolate, and her dishwater-blonde hair bleached in the sun with aureate highlights. In the evenings she sat at her computer keyboard, erect and contemplative, lost in the timeless freedom of creative expression. Exciting new people and places emerged through the mysterious power of the written word as her mother continued to fan the flame. “Can I read your latest work, Jennie?”
Despite her parents’ permission to pursue her passion, uncertainties also tugged at Jennie’s heart, for she knew challenges lurked just around the corner. Poised at this intersection in her life, she wafted through the warm, comfortable days knowing independent adulthood awaited. At night she lay in bed and cowered at the thought of leaving home to pursue a self-sufficient career. “You’ll be bold, energetic, and as spangled as the sunlight dancing on the waves,” her mother confidently assured her.
Jennie entered college the following fall semester as an English major and visionary seeking the culmination of a dream: authorship and publication of her own book. Four years later she emerged with a degree and secured a job as a high school English teacher. On the wall above her desk in the English department she hung a motivational quote by Jonathon Swift: “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” She lived by this mantra, and taught her students to unashamedly reach for their own stars.
For three decades Jennie touched the lives of hundreds of students – the classic bright but unmotivated ones, those disadvantaged by the influence of dysfunctional families or wayward peers, and the scholarly, self-assured thinkers who were natural achievers. During this time her mother slowly failed with senile dementia and finally passed away. Still, her legacy lingered, having etched the truth in Jennie’s soul. “You can and will become an author! Believe the Lord for this; His lenses on your heart and soul will magnify possibility into reality.”
Because of her sacrificial commitment to those in her overcrowded classes, Jennie earned various prestigious teaching awards at both the local and national level. While striving to be the best teacher she could be, in her more private moments she also continued to envision herself as an author of a volume with a textured hard cover and deckle-edged pages. At times she could almost feel this yet-unwritten book, taste it, and smell it. She also knew its authorship could not be forced. The book would come in God’s timing.
And so she waited, while the eyes of her heart focused on Him.
The year Jennie retired from teaching she also hired a contractor to build her dream house: a bungalow facing a small pond where noisy geese and ducks sometimes rivaled for supremacy. After so many years of serving others, it was her turn to rest in this place of relative simplicity. All through the fall, winter, and spring, she spent time with her family and friends, took long walks with her faithful companion-dog, Rusty, and recorded memories of her teaching career on her blog.
But when summer arrived that year with its surge of new life, the old embers of desire stirred into new flames in Jennie’s heart. The waiting was over! She earnestly set about composing fresh pages full of insight and understanding, surprising even herself. Fine-tuned descriptions supported the development of a character named Tom Monroe, a teenager stumbling through dense, tangled forests of self-doubt who was redeemed by the unparalleled commitment of a public school teacher. She saw Tom clearly in her mind’s eye, and then loved him to life on the page.
The writing developed swiftly, which was no surprise, and by the end of the summer Jennie’s manuscript was ready for editing and self-publication. Jennie could imagine her mother shouting, “Bravo!” from the windows of her heavenly mansion. Perhaps she alone knew how Jennie had seen this book develop through the lens of her heart for years, even though she was physically blind.
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