Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STEAM (12/03/15)
TITLE: Healing Springs
By Holly Westefeld
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Garvin steered with his left hand, and rubbed Meg's back with his right. "Can't do what, sweetheart?"
"I can't d-decorate, or see Sheri all dolled up for C-christmas. I didn't even want to stay today. Seeing her brought all the grief bubbling up like a geyser."
"You don't want to spend Christmas with family?"
"No. I want to pull the covers over my head for the next few weeks. Jenn and I were supposed to take the girls this week to get Christmas pictures done in their matching red velvet dresses. They were hard to find in the summer, but we picked them out as soon as we both knew we were having girls."
"I remember. Honey, no one will blame you for not doing Christmas this year. Maybe we should find a quiet place to get away from the hubbub, where no well-meaning people will drop by, and we don't have to pass Cari's room for a few days."
"Maybe, though going on vacation seems frivolous, too."
"Our thoughts and love of her go with us everywhere."
"Okay, but I want to take a poinsettia by the cemetery before we go."
"Certainly. Do you have any thoughts about where to go?"
"Not really. If you don't mind, will you do the planning, so all I have to do is get time off from work?"
The lodge, nestled back in the hills, seemed nearly deserted when Garvin parked the car. Entering the lobby, a crackling fire welcomed them from a large brick fireplace, and Garvin was pleased to see that what holiday decor there was was understated.
"Welcome. My name is Matt. Mr. and Mrs. Garrison, I presume?"
"Goodness, are we the only ones here?" Meg queried.
Matt smiled. "No, just the last to arrive. There are two other couples. You will probably meet them at dinner, which my wife Martha will be serving at six o'clock."
While Garvin went back for their bags, Meg stepped out on the balcony overlooking the river, banks blanketed in snow, with graceful crystalline trees, except where the steam rose from the deck with the hot tubs fed by the hot springs. Returning, Garvin slipped his arm around her. "It is so quiet."
Meg nodded. "It is like the mix of the cold of my grief, and the heat of anger that I am suffering it."
Garvin just held her close. Nothing he had said had been able to break through Meg's anger at God.
At dinner, the other couples seemed equally self-absorbed. No one probed the others reason for being there for Christmas, but all seemed to be weighed down with heavy hearts. Afterwards, Garvin lit a fire in their smaller iteration of the lobby's fireplace and settled in with a book, while Meg bundled up and took her sketch book out on the balcony to capture the scene by moonlight.
"You expect me to don a swimsuit and go out in nearly freezing weather to sit in a steaming tub of mineral water?"
"I am," Garvin smiled. "Think of the cozy massage that follows."
Laying the thick robes on the heated bench, they slipped in to the steaming pool. Despite herself, Meg felt the tension and stress of the last three month start to melt away. Nestled between cozy flannel sheets on the massage table, jasmine scented oil being kneaded in to her neck and shoulders, her geyser of tears erupted again. The therapist listened quietly as she poured out her heartache.
When she seemed spent, the woman said softly, "I understand. I heard those same platitudes when we lost our son. The two things that helped me were a dear lady who assured me that God would bless us again, and the gradual dawning that eternity with him in Heaven could never be taken from me."
Meg looked up in wonder. "I haven't thought of it that way. Praise God that he would lead me to hot springs, to refresh me with His healing spring.
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