Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MAP (01/31/19)
TITLE: Drawing A Map In The Sand
By Mariane Holbrook
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As she approached the lake, her eyes fastened on a swan gliding seamlessly across the water, a portrait of graceful serenity, a quiet affirmation that all was right with the world.
But all was not right with Anna's world.
A year earlier, a careless, excited teenager sped down the highway in the new red sports car his father had given him as a high school graduation gift. Eager to pass the slow-moving vehicle ahead of him, he pulled out, meeting Anna's approaching car head-on. The earsplitting crash propelled parts of his car all over someone's well-manicured lawn and plunged Anna into a ditch with abrasions, a severe concussion, and spinal injury. Implausibly, the boy was not injured but Anna's suffered from unending pain, sleepless nights, and clinical depression from then on.
Sitting there alone, Anna picked up a stick and began drawing a map in the sand showing where she was spiritually, where she wanted to be, and the possible side roads that could either detract or benefit her. There seemed to be no clear path out of the deep, debilitating morass in which she had been living.
"Lord," she prayed, "show me what to do. My life is wasting away. I'm grateful for my dear husband who does everything for me, but I'm useless and unproductive. I need to feel needed again. "
Should she search for work that would accommodate her physical disabilities, stay at home, content to be a wife and homemaker, or resume a writing career that had long been neglected?
Still carrying the rough stick, she began the long walk home. Later, at the dinner table, Anna told her husband, Ben, about her walk in the woods and her prayer for a new road map for her life.
Before bedtime, Anna checked her computer for Emails and discovered a long message from her friend, Judith, in Iowa. She told Anna of her recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, of the poor prognosis, and the sleepless nights that were leaving her weak and exhausted.
Judith asked Anna to record on a CD some traditional hymns at Anna's piano for Judith to play during the terrible nights of pain. Judith listed several hymns beginning with, "It Is Well With My Soul."
Anna was not an accomplished pianist but she promised to give it some thought. She wondered if this was part of the road map she'd drawn with the stick back at the lake.
After breakfast the next morning, Anna received a phone call from her sister in Vermont. "Anna, could you record at your piano some of my favorite hymns like, 'It Is Well With My Soul?' I felt led to ask you."
Astonished, Anna told her sister about Judith's Email the night before. Anna's first thought was that perhaps her sister and Judith had collaborated on this idea, but they not only didn't know each other but had never heard of each other.
Anna went to her piano and began playing, "It Is Well With My Soul" and all the other hymns on Judith's list. After Ben finished recording them, Anna sent the CDs to her sister and to Judith. Some of their friends heard the CDs and asked where they could purchase copies.
Stunned, Anna mailed each CD, free and postage paid, to people from all over the country. A chaplain requested one for his work in a Santa Fe hospital. A Special Education teacher in Ohio played the CD to quiet her class when they became rowdy. A prison guard requested a copy, as did a church pianist, a lonely widower, a rural mail carrier and nursing home administrator. A dying woman played the CD all night long, requested it for her funeral and the graveside service as well.
At final count, Anna had copied and mailed over 1,000 CDs of the old hymns. She walked back into the woods and sat by the lake where she had drawn a road map in the sand. It was not the map she'd prayed for but it was clearly written by the hand of God to bring Anna back to the place of contentment, productivity, and service where she'd longed to be.
Happily, today she is a published Christian author.
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