Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HOPE (joyful, confident expectation in salvation) (03/05/15)
TITLE: For Even One
By Holly Westefeld
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"Son, it is getting dark. I will get you a lantern. Shall I come with you?"
"No, sir, I need you to watch for predators here. Fortunately, there is a full moon, and I know our land well, because when I find Cloud, I will have no hand available for a lantern."
"Can you really hope to find her at night?"
"Yes, I have every expectation of doing so. I know where I have grazed them today, and she is probably not far from there. But I must hurry. She could be hurt or in danger."
I dash confidently down the hill and along the path we had taken earlier, calling, "Cloud, Cloud, where are you my precious one?" There is no answering bleat.
At the outer edge of where they had fed today, I stop and listen. There! Off to my right I hear a distant cry of fear, and head swiftly in to the craggy ravine, watching my footing as best I can, and dodging thorn bushes. "Cloud!"
As she hears my voice, her cry shifts from fear to one of mingled pain and joy. I find her down a steep bank of a stagnant pool, tangled in a thornbush at the edge. Her right foreleg is at an odd angle, her fleece grayed with dirt, dotted with crimson from the thorns. I extract her as gently as possible, lifting her to my shoulder, heedless of the blood trickling over my arms and the thorns piercing my brow as I bury my face in her coat.
Then I hear the howl.
I ascend the bank as quickly as I safely can, making for the mouth of the ravine, but I am not fast enough. The wolf is bounding toward us. I look frantically from side to side, and spot a cleft just big enough for Cloud, that even has some stubbly grass. Laying her gently on the grass, I lie down across the opening, my back to the wolf, so I can continue to whisper words of hope to my precious lamb.
It is all I can do to keep whispering those words, as claws and teeth tear in to my back, but Cloud must not sense any fear or pain from me as she nibbles at the grass. The last thing I remember is Cloud settling down to rest.
My next awareness is of a gentle touch on my shoulder. "Son, arise. Cloud is safe, and needs you to bring her back to the fold and tend her wounds."
I sit slowly in a ray of morning sun that lights the ravine from its eastward opening. The tightness of my scars makes movement stiff at first, but I gain my feet and lift a fed and rested Cloud in to my arms once more. "Let's get you home where I can bathe you and put salve on your wounds," I tell her, as I nuzzle her face. "Before you know it, you won't look like a storm Cloud, you'll be the fluffy cumulus Cloud I have always known, as white as Snow."
"You endured a horrific night for this little one, Son."
"Yes, Father, and I would do it all over again for the joy of rescuing even one."
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