Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Omnishambles (05/01/14)
- TITLE: Jesus Take Me As I Am
By Pauline Carruthers
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She reminded me of a child’s paint box. Colours spilling over the edges, seeping in tiny chaotic rainbow rivulets. I almost wanted to re-design her as she smiled her way towards me. Light brown hair tied with bright fluorescent pink ribbon cascaded down over baggy orange sweater that leaked onto pale blue jeans, dripping over crimson socks that disappeared into striped green and yellow canvas sandals.
She was pushing a rusted crimson coloured bike up the hill, a tiny dark haired girl in a yellow dress strapped into the child carrier. Blocking my path she greeted me with a wide friendly grin and asked if I would like to visit for coffee. Victoria’s cut glass English accent belied her conspicuous appearance as we hesitantly communicated a mutually convenient time.
I was a stranger to this small country village that nestled amidst permanent tangles of sprawling rhododendron bushes and hawthorn blossom. The few local shops and post office spread haphazardly along winding lanes and secret alleyways. Its unconventional uniqueness had already crept around my heart like rambling clinging ivy, reluctant to let go.
Uncut grass glistening with morning dew left damp smears around the bottoms of my clean denim jeans, as I pushed my way through a gate that swung on one hinge; and a glorious golden sun radiated a drying heat onto the already cracked peeling paint of her green front door.
Victoria greeted me like a dear friend, laughing when I caught my jacket on the handle of a child’s pushchair as she led me through a narrow hallway lined with packing cases. She explained that she had already taken Hannah Louise to nursery, so we had the morning free to get to know one another.
A clutter of utensils, crockery and shopping spilled over every surface in her otherwise clean kitchen and she made small talk as she struggled to locate the coffee jar. Ten minutes later, sipping herbal tea from a hand crafted mug, I found my usual introvert personality disintegrating in the radiance of her unpretentious presence.
Relaxing against a fat cushion, my mug sitting on an upturned tea chest, I listened as Victoria opened her heart, conscious that she felt as I did. We were two souls thrown together for a purpose. She told me her husband Philip was in India, working in a mission hospital amongst leprosy sufferers. She had been with him until Hannah Louise had been born three years ago, when the strain of adapting to the intense discipline of the mission compound and the constant battles against the water born infections, had almost destroyed her growing faith. Philip had planned to return to England with her but her heart had known the urgent need of his experience and knowledge in the chaos of a newly developing mission hospital. They had tearfully agreed before God that the sacrifice of separation for a while would be worth every lonely moment.
That was over thirty years ago. At the time I had been a new Christian, engaged to Daniel, an older deeply committed Christian who felt the call of God to work as a missionary on the west coast of Africa. Struggling against my need for convention I was finding it impossible to anticipate living an unconventional life, drowning in a culture that would slowly but surely infiltrate and probably destroy my tidy organised life. Daniel had finally persuaded me to take three months away to seek the Lord’s will for my life; and that was when I had met Victoria, who had opened up new horizons in my walk with Jesus.
From my vantage point on the hilltop I sit and watch the activity in the village below. My bright purple dress with its huge splashes of yellow flowers fights for dominance against the fluorescent pink of a hand knitted shawl. The brown sandals on my dusty feet need replacing but supplies are dependent on the long overdue boat. I’m hungry, but we eat when it’s convenient. My eyes alight on Daniel and he glances upwards, before returning his attention to the colourfully dressed children he is teaching. Life is permanently haphazard, yet I feel thankful for the love of Jesus that has changed and moulded me into the person He needs for His purpose here.
Languishing on the hilltop, oblivious to time and the gritty brown dust, I close my eyes, thinking of Victoria and wondering if a bike will arrive on the next shipment.
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