Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Cup and Saucer (08/28/14)
- TITLE: Searching for Answers
By Virgil Youngblood
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After arriving in La Democracia, he purchased supplies and filled his backpack. His game plan was to disappear into the jungle rainforest and wrestle with God in solitude. He had questions. Why did friends lie? Why did church leaders practice questionable ethics? What happened to love one another? Surely God would speak to him away from the daily noise of city life.
Hiking away on the dirt road, he came to the La Vega San Rafael hanging bridge over the Selegua River. The Cardillera de Los Cuchamatanes peaks, rising over 11,000 feet, beckoned him. He wouldn’t attempt their summit. God willing, he would wander the oak forest at the lower levels and the pine forest higher on the slopes.
After three days pushing through the undergrowth and tropical foliage, he was beginning to acclimate to the heat and humid climate and the surprising noise of the jungle. Black Howler monkeys flashed through the trees crying out, disturbing Scarlet Macaws and Green Parakeets. He surprised a Hooded Skunk and saw a Jaguar at a distance. There were butterflies, plants and numerous birds he didn’t recognize. It was therapeutic, balm to his soul.
But, God, what about those questions?
It was on the fourth day or maybe the fifth when Sid came to a small opening in the forest. Sunlight shafted like a spotlight upon a knee-high stump in the middle of the clearing. The stump was flat across the top. A brownish-orange terracotta cup and saucer was placed on it. He stood behind the undergrowth, trying to comprehend what he was seeing. In the middle of nowhere, how can this be? What does it mean? He didn’t know why but he decided to remain hidden and watch for awhile. A barely discernable path in the grass lead from the far side to --- was it an altar?
It was mid-afternoon when movement caught his eye. An elderly Maya Indian woman was crossing the clearing, dressed in a coarse tan skirt and a green sleeveless shirt. A blue glass-bead necklace sparkled light. In her hand she carried a small thermos and something in a cloth bag. At the stump, she poured a steaming liquid into the cup and placed seven coffee beans on the saucer. As she turned to leave she saw me.
“No!” she yelled, rushing toward me, her finger pointing behind me. “You must leave. You cannot be here.”
“I didn’t mean to scare …”
“Go,” she said. “You cannot see him.” She began to sob. “He will not come if you are here.” She gave me a shove, sending me tumbling backwards. For an old, short woman she had amazing strength.
I was stumbling to my feet when she came at me again. I snagged her arm. “Hold on; just a minute. I will leave. But come with me, please, and talk to me. My soul trembles to understand what I have seen.”
The wildness in her eyes gradually faded along with the heaving of her chest. She studied my face intently, struggling with inner thoughts. “This way,” she said, trotting down a dim path.
Eventually, we came to a small adobe hut. She beckoned me enter and motioned to a colorful pallet on the hard packed dirt floor. When I was seated, she offered coffee from the thermos and poured it into a cup on a saucer that matched the set-up on the stump.
“My husband was disfigured in a mining accident,” she said. “He will not let anyone look upon him, not even me. I take him coffee every day. I do not care what he looks like. I want him to come home. He chooses to live in the forest. I tell you this for only one reason: you must now pray God will heal our marriage. I think that must be the reason you have come. Two people praying for each other’s needs are more powerful than one. Do you agree?
I sipped the rich Guatemalan Arabica coffee, nodding agreement, knowing now what had been missing in my life.
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