Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ODD (02/20/20)
TITLE: What Do You See?
By Marilyn Borga
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My brothers, Nathan and Dan had been loafing on the bench in front of our house, pretending to study. Nathan muttered a low reply to Dan’s exclamation.
“He looks even crazier than he did the last time he came back from there. And where does he find those rags he wears?”
I dropped the bread dough I’d been kneading onto the floured surface and quickly stepped to the doorway to join them. The subject of their rude exchange was ambling far down the road. Thankfully, he hadn’t been near enough to hear the insults.
“Why do you two pick on him so?” I asked. “What difference does it make to you whether he wears rough clothing or fine silk?”
“Come on, Libby, you know he’s always been peculiar with all that long messy hair and those big bugged-out eyes. He stares at people as though he can look right through them. And he always cocks his head as though he’s listening to someone no one else can hear.”
“You two only notice those things that make him different,” I told them, “but I remember how kind he always was when I was a child. Do you recall that time when I cut my hand while I was preparing dinner? He was walking by and heard me crying. He cleaned and wrapped my wound and then waited with me until Mother got back from the market.” I hoped my gentle reprimand might stay their criticism but they were far from finished.
“He’s a know-it-all,” Nathan continued. “In class, he’d challenge the teachers, as though he knew the lessons better than they did. He’s always been different.” He snorted. “I heard that his parents were really old when he was born; maybe that’s why he acts so strangely.”
Nathan mussed his hair until it stood on end, then opened his mouth in an ugly grimace and waved his arms in the air. Dan cackled at his cruel, mocking antics.
“There were rumors that his father wasn’t quite right in the head, either,” Dan considered, “so it’s no wonder that he’s weird.”
Tears stung my eyes as my brothers continued to verbally attack the man who had always treated me with respect and kindness. They criticized his disheveled appearance, his tendency to keep to himself, and even the strangeness of the foods he chose to eat.
I stalked back into the house and resumed my work. As my hands coaxed the soft dough into a smooth, fragrant loaf, my thoughts settled peacefully. My friend’s blunt outspokenness was offensive to my brothers, yet to me, he seemed honest and sincere. Where my brothers saw restlessness and discord in him, I sensed a righteous purpose. To them, he was odd; to me, he seemed special, chosen by God to be destined for greatness. Well, I would let my brothers have their opinions. As for me, I would watch and wait. I trusted that, in due time, God would reveal the plans he had for my dear friend John.
7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
8 “But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
9 “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.
10 “For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’
11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matthew 11:7-11 (NKJV)
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