Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)
TITLE: A Dangerous Silence
By Melanie Kerr
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
SEND ARTICLE TO A FRIEND
She knew my father's weakness and warned me. In my loyalty and love I neglected to see. I can hear her voice now. She knew that the last child born had taken too much of her strength. Her life was ebbing away. As I held her child, she strained to tell me.
"Take care of your father. Remind him of God's faithfulness. Tell him again and again that God is his one, true treasure."
My father grieved my mother's passing like the earth mourns the sun's absence during a cold winter. She had been his sun, sustaining him with the light of her wisdom. She had nourished him with hope and promises of a golden future. He was inconsolable. The light from his eyes darkened and the laughter in his voice faded.
I tried to be my mother. I tried to resurrect her spirit in our home. I sang her songs and wove her stories into the tapestry of our family life. I hungered to see my father smile.
"He is still young. There was still love in his heart. Let another woman, a second wife, restore him," I prayed.
Then came the war. I watched anxiously, as he marched away with the other men, clad in armour and weighed down with weapons. He didn't glance back as I stood with the other women and children, silent and solemn. Perhaps he hoped he would not have to return. Many men die in wars and in death he would be reunited with the one who held his heart.
The men returned spinning stories of a great victory, of trumpet blasts and shouts and the rumble of tumbling walls. My father was silent. He hid inside the tent, alone and secretive. We were told not to bother him.
One day I discovered what he had been hiding. It happened quite by accident. All it took was a small child playing with a stick furrowed against the floor of the tent. Buried in a shallow hole was a beautiful robe, folded over a bag of silver coins and a heavy wedge of a gold. Day by day, my father had retrieved his treasure. Gazing greedily at it, he allowed another love to invade his heart.
I should have spoken. I silenced my mother's voice in my heart. I knew that she would have said something - to him, or if he would not listen, to someone else. Did it really matter that much if it brought him happiness? One day there come be a time when he will realise this was not his true treasure and surrender it. Until then what harm could it do?
I said nothing.
My father knew that I had found out. I tried so hard to keep the reproach out of my gaze. He made no attempt to explain or to justify his actions. Silence like milestones marked our days.
Then it was too late.
Another war, another battle brought defeat and death to many of the men. In a single day, lives were cut down like a scythe cuts through a cornfield, homes were ripped apart and families were broken like shattered pottery pieces scattered on the floor.
The treasure hidden in our tent had been stolen from Jericho. It was holy to the Lord and should have been burned along with the rest of the city. My father had seen the robe, the silver and the gold, coveted them and taken them. The defeat at Ai was the consequence of his action.
Now I stand, in the centre of a circle of hostile people that were once my friends. I can see their fingers folded around stones. A tear slowly slides down my cheek. What law did I break? The crime was my father's, and yet if I had spoken could I have changed things?
"Lord, forgive me that I kept silent when I should have spoken. I bore false witness. I failed to remind my beloved father that you are our one and true treasure."
I watch as the first stone flies through the air.
(Based on Joshua 7:24-26)