Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FORGET (10/17/19)
TITLE: Shadows in My Mind
By Jack Taylor
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Each season I had promised to make adjustments in line with what I knew was right. The early days had been heady moments of achievement and hope. The people around me had raised their heads like a morning rose at the height of its awesomeness. The compromises had clear rationality and the results seemed to prove that prudence had won the day. None of that helped me remember.
Divine blessing on projects, affirmations from leaders, tangible rewards multiplying day after day. It was easy to get swept up in the moment – thinking I knew better than others with their conservative words of caution. One love after another – my heart seemed to have room for all who caught my eye.
Oh, there were sacrifices – mostly from others. None of those who benefitted from my choices and prosperity complained. The impoverished voices of those bearing the brunt of the labor needed to keep things moving for me were stifled under the layers of administration that quilted me from their cold reality. It was easy to turn a blind eye toward their plight.
In truth, there had been a garden of roses. It was easy to ignore the wilting ones when so many young and fresh buds burst out in their fragrant wonder – eager to display themselves. I see now that they were much like the relationships I was too busy to nurture as a wonder in themselves. When others pursued me it hardly seemed a need to pursue others.
And now, I had chosen one flower. For weeks it had opened slowly and I had stopped once or twice to enjoy its heady aroma. It sat in the window, capturing the sunlight, unfurling its petals while I ran by to solve the latest crises – to share my wisdom with the world that needed me. Still, I didn’t remember.
“Solomon!” a voice at the edge of my conscience had called. “Do you remember when we spoke? When your heart was bound to mine. When the beauty and the richness of life gave rise to songs and proverbs and wonder in everything you saw?”
“I’m doing this for you,” I reasoned. “Time is passing and people will forget these days if I don’t put everything into getting things done.”
“Everything is temporary,” the voice said. “It all passes. It all gets forgotten.”
“Maybe this time will be different,” I said. “I’ll do things which last. Things others will notice.”
“Everything is temporary,” the voice said again. “Everything, except us.”
It was during those days I planted the rose gardens. A thousand blooms.
“Remember me,” the voice said.
“How could I forget you?” I said, as I raced onto my next endeavor. “Without you I would be nothing.”
The seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days, the years – where did they go? Now I sit wrinkled and worried – alone with this rose. A petal has fallen and it preaches loudly on my own frailty. I sweep it away and discard it out of sight but another lifts away from the huddle of beauty and threatens to replace it on the ground.
Perhaps if I pick away the wrinkled, the faded, the petals on the fringes – perhaps, then, I can capture a flower in its glory that will last. A flower that will be remembered and restore the wonder of the early days when life was fresh and whole. Yet, as I try, the rose dwindles smaller and smaller.
And so, a single petal, wilting on its own, shouts messages louder than I have ever preached. Messages of faith I had forgotten; messages of hope I had ignored; messages of peace I had rushed by.
“Solomon,” the voice whispers faintly but not so faintly I don’t hear it again. “I’m still here.”
I reach for the petal and unfurl it, tearing it as I try to fix it. “Show me the glory,” I say.
“The glory is fading.”
“Restore the joy.”
“Look back at the rest of the rose – reaching for the sunlight.”
“Restore, my soul like that rose, Lord.”
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