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 Post subject: A journal on Darkness and Light
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:24 pm 
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Preamble:
First things first, If anyone thinks this should be moved to 'Tricky Subjects', feel free. There will be no profanity or sexual content or anything that would need to be cut from a 'G' rated movie, but the subject and tone is, by its innate nature, a dark matter. I debated whether or not to post any of this here, and decided to go ahead because we Christians have a strong tendency to paint smiley faces on everything and pretend that everything is fine 100% of the time. We all know that isn't true, but we're Christians, so we fake it.

I was asked if I can write, and advised to 'journal' my feelings in some form to work through my grief. I was advised that any medium that I was comfortable with would work and I could keep it private or share some of it with other people. This is the 'shared' part and I offer it as a reminder that everything isn't 100% fine all of the time. It is not an attempt to deal with facts as much as it is an effort to express (rather than suppress) emotions.


Weekly Challenge #240: Write based on a dream you have personally had.
Weekly Challenge #241: Write something about a cat.
Personal Goal: Write 1000 words

What the heck, let's try to kill several birds with one stone and combine the old WC#240 (that I passed on) with the current WC#241 & Personal Goal.

Surrounded by darkness and the smell of old burlap. Weightlessly floating in space. Soft balls of fluff bounced and jostled off each other, sensing the motion but unable to orient themselves in the dark and confusion. The rock, hard and rough and jagged, a stark contrast to the soft liter-mates, reoriented the world to down an instant before they crashed into it.

[SPLASH]

The stale cloth pressed in on every side and dragged me down. Water slowly seeped through the cloth and began to fill the bag even as the rock slowly but relentlessly dragged us to the bottom. The runt was the first to stop meowing. Then the striped tom fell silent. I cried out alone in the dark until I swallowed the first mouth of water. I stopped meowing and closed my mouth, conserving my last gulp of air.

****

'The cats in France
can sing and Dance,
but my cat hides in boxes.'

****

It wasn't always like this - cold, dark, alone. I was born first. Born with my eyes wide open. It was unusual for a cat to be born with its eyes open, but I wanted to see, to hear to understand ... everything. Three and a half minutes later, the striped tom was born. He was by far the boldest of the liter, fearing nothing and always ready to wrestle or fight. He had a constant need to prove himself in everything. A constant drive to see what was outside. Open the door for an instant and he was gone. Three and a half minutes after that, the runt of the liter was born. He almost didn't live to take his first breath. All he ever wanted was someone to love. To curl up in someones lap and to purr and be stroked.

We would play in the box. Running and tumbling and enjoying each other for hours, and curling together to sleep in a ball to the sound of our collective breathing and heartbeats.

****

Another heart beat. My heart beat. The water has completely surrounded me now. I am engulfed in unlimited absolute darkness. I am alone. Do I want to join them? That is the question. I must decide quickly, the air in my lungs will not last. Time is the enemy. If I want to live, then I must act. So the question lingers with even more urgency: Do I want to survive? I ... I ...

Another heart beat. I am indifferent. "It is not fair." ... who said anything would be fair? "It is too hard" ... who said it would not be hard ... define 'TOO' hard.

Another heart beat. Tomorrow. What about tomorrow? ... Yes, exactly! What about TOMORROW! Who knows what tomorrow may hold? If I drown, then I will miss it. I will never know what might have happened tomorrow.

Another heart beat. I sense that time is running out. I ... I do want to see what may happen tomorrow. If I was a dog, I would be helpless. However, GOD has made me a cat. I reach out in the darkness with my paw and feel the wet cloth beneath my front pads. Claws extend and lock into the coarse fabric. The second paw presses and locks into place. Powerful hind legs made to pounce rake and shred the cloth beneath me. I am surrounded by water, free from the bag and can see the sky above me.

Lungs ready to explode scream in protest even as every ounce of strength remaining is poured into an instinctive drive for the light. I do not belong in the dark water, I am a creature of the light and the air. Head breaks the surface and gulps air. Never did life taste as sweet as it did at that moment. Yet it is only a moment. Again I must struggle to live, to reach the shore.

****

I lay in the patch of grass beneath the tree. Hidden, sheltered, safe. The dappled sun has dried the surface of my fur, but underneath is still wet. I am cold. I am dirty. I am hungry. I am all alone. I have nothing to occupy my thoughts but the memory of my liter-mates colder, wetter, more alone ... at the bottom of that stream.

What sort of a world is this that I have been born into?
Will tomorrow really be better?

##########

"Wake up. Wake up. You are having a bad dream." says the woman in the bed. "Are you all right?"

The man struggles to transition from asleep to awake, process her question. ('Am I OK?) "Yeah, Yeah. I'm sorry. Go back to sleep." Laying in bed, he tries to decide exactly how he feels. ('Am I OK? Yes. No. I don't know ... compared to what?')



Epilogue:
They were right. This is emotionally exhausting.


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 Post subject: Re: A journal on Darkness and Light
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:49 pm 
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Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing! The metaphor is just the right mix of subtle and clear, and it had a very nice poetic flavor to it. I really do like this.


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 Post subject: Re: A journal on Darkness and Light
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:20 am 
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(Mod's Note: This does not need to be moved to Tricky Subjects. The content disclaimer at the top of the post is sufficient.)

That is dark, but it was very brilliantly written. Great job!

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Give me coffee or give me death!
Lieutenant General Aubrey Leah Hansen
author, screenwriter, co-owner of Penoaks Publishing

Penoaks Publishing: Independent Publishing, Professional Quality


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 Post subject: Re: A journal on Darkness and Light
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:44 pm 
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The Tale of Three Cats: A Mystery

Every cat has a secret name. A name that he chooses for himself. This first tale is about "Stork", the smallest of the litter.


STORK:

On day 2190, he died alone in the grass beside the road. The victim of an accident. Yet was it really an accident? That is what everyone asked. That is what I asked, no ... what I needed to know.

He was born on day 186. I remember it. So small and sick. He followed the striped tom and me around everywhere he could, but mama never let him wander far from her sight. He only waited 474 days to run off and have kittens of his own. He was a better provider than his sire had been, he stayed around to raise the kittens. He loved to fish with his kittens and growing up sick meant growing up dangerously skinny, so those long legs and fishing made him look like one of those tall sea birds. That was why they first called him a stork. He seemed to like the name and chose it for himself. When his mate took the kittens and left, it broke his heart.

Stork never really noticed the sky. He never wondered about the stars or the clouds. He always struggled to place food on the table and a roof over his head. Yet somehow, he loved people. Their problems became his problems. If anyone needed to move, Stork was there to help carry boxes and furniture. If he had one great weakness, it was his inability to be alone. There was once an old song that went "Looking for love in all the wrong places" ... that seemed to be written for Stork. After his mate left, Stork snuggled with other cats and even settled down to raise some else's kittens. He loved those kittens as if they were his own and they loved him.

It came to pass, that Stork got to talking with another cat. This cat began telling Stork wild and fanciful tales about the clouds and flying cats and all sorts of imaginings. Stork asked me if such things were true. I opened the Sacred Scroll left by Great Wind and told Stork what the Great Wind had said about such things. I gave him the scroll to read more for himself. I do not know if he did.

Stork loved both his biological kittens and his adopted kittens. It was for this reason that Stork was constantly searching and hunting to provide for two families. It was while traveling from one hunting ground to another, that he died after only 1569 days of life. There was no blame to lay on the car, it was not the fault of the driver. Yet as the other cats gathered to mourn, I could not know whether Stork had made peace with the Great Wind. Or stop wondering how anything could happen that the Sky did not see. Questions without answers.


SILVERMANE:

On day 3394 he was found dead with the murder weapon beside him after having lived only 3102 days. There was no questions of who did it or even why, the letter explained it all. No one else ever understood the striped tom, but he and I had a special bond. We were cut from similar cloth and forged in the same furnace. It was only the later treatments that were different. I had always thought that he was hammered into steel (strong, flexible, capable of holding an edge) while I was cast iron (hard, unyielding, brittle). His name, like so much of his life, was a secret and a mystery that he kept private. I know he chose it and it has something to do with a Holy Warrior, but only he knew the details.

Silvermane loved the outdoors. Both the quiet of nature and the danger. We once floated down a storm swollen whitewater rapid and over a waterfall together. We climbed cliffs overlooking rivers and climbed to the tops of mountains to stand on the peak. We once carried a rock from a valley to the peak of a mountain and joked that it had taken nature centuries to transport that rock from the top of the mountain to the valley and would now take centuries more to do it again ... behold the power of a cat! Silvermane traveled the mountain trails from Georgia to Maine and west to the desert and the Rocky Mountains. Wherever there was an adventure, he sought it. He worked as hard as he played, always striving to be the very best.

We spoke one time at length about the sky and the stars and the clouds. About who created it and what it meant. Silvermane told me of his meeting the Great Wind. To each cat is granted a gift. My gift is the ability to know the truth when I find it. Silvermane spoke truth in his words. He had met the Great Wind.

Why? That unanswerable question. Even when you have the answer. In his farewell letter, Silvermane said that he had "struggled with the sadness as long as he could": Yet when he spoke to anyone, he hid the sadness and pretended that everything was fine. In his farewell letter, he spoke of his life as a failure: he was unable to see all that he had accomplished and all of the future possibilities. In his farewell letter, Silvermane spoke of his faith that there was a better world waiting for him than this one. So he left, and I remain behind.



"Today is day 3558" said the fat grey cat, sitting in the chair by the fire. "At this point you are probably thinking 'I thought this was a mystery'? Patience my kittens, indeed it is. It is the greatest of mysteries. There is one more cat that you must learn of."


ESCHATUS:

The third cat died, not once, but twice. The first time was on day 292, the day all three kittens were abandoned on their own. Stork sought to snuggle with anyone that could offer protection. Silvermane chose to embrace self discipline and became a fighter. The grey chose another path. I chose to slay the light and embrace the darkness. To become a nocturnal cat. When I allowed all of the old to die, I chose a new name for the new me. I became Eschatus ... the last things. Master of nothingness. It is a time and a place best not spoken of, except to say that Eschatus died on day 417, prepared to leave by his own hand, yet the Great Wind intervened and blew me from death to life. Only to live long enough to bury Stork and Silvermane.


THE MYSTERY:

Why was the one who loved the most, the last born, first to die and least likely to reach Heaven?
Why was the one who succeeded at everything, unable to see his success and chose death over life?
Why is the one who was born first, done the most evil, loved the least ... chosen to be the last survivor? Given so much forgiveness? Given so many chances? Given so much time? Given so much love?

That is the mystery. The great mystery of Grace. Unmerited.

Ephesians 2:1-10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


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 Post subject: Re: A journal on Darkness and Light
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:43 am 
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(#208 Write about a storm.)

THE GIFT OF JOB

Lightning streaked from the dark clouds to the angry ocean, its flash briefly illuminating the scene as another wave crashed over the side of the ship and swept across the wooden deck. Everything leaned dangerously to port and water poured over the gunwale as the lower yardarm dipped into the water. The men clung desperately to anything they could find as the wind and the water chilled them to the bone, and waited for the ship to slowly right itself.

The mate screamed over the howling wind "Now. Move the arm." and the crewmen rushed to the fallen upper yardarm to lift it and pull the victim clear. The boy was already dead. "Tie 'er fast, less it do more damage" the mate shouted and the crew obeyed. A seamen from the Ivory Coast silently carried the body of the cabin boy below. The rain hid the large man's silent tears. Too dangerous to be on deck, the mate ordered all but the helmsman and himself below. The captain would need to deal with the crew himself. This storm was no longer the greatest danger the ship faced.

"A bad omen" said one crewman.

"Women on a ship mean trouble." said another and several sailors glanced at the lower deck crammed full of settler families, most vomiting, and then back at the body of the cabin boy, the ship's good luck charm for the last three voyages. A foot left or right, another few minutes and it would have fallen and missed him.

"Nonsense." said the captain "it was just bad luck."

"Beggin yer pardon, sir, but the whole voyage been bad luck. Supplies delayed so we get a late start. Winter storms come early. Navigation problems. Now death of the boy, and maybe the rest of us as well. Thinking maybe we should turn back. Maybe the whole voyage is cursed."

A match struck and flared as an old man in a black hat and coat carefully lit a pipe that he held clenched in his teeth with his hands cradled to control the flow of air and protect the fire in the bowl. Several quick puffs and it was lit. The smoke circled his head like a halo and the rich scent of his tobacco slowly wafted across the room. "The gift of Job." he said.

All eyes, crew and passenger alike, were on him. "What was that Reverend?"

"Who killed Job's children?" the old man took a draw on his pipe and slowly exhaled. "Chapter 1 verse 19 says 'And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead' just like this poor boy. So did the wind kill them? In verse 11, Satan says to God 'But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he', that's Job, 'will curse thee to thy face.' So it is Satan who desired to harm Job by harming his children. God responds 'Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.' So to whose account should we charge their death? The wind that killed them? Satan who sent the wind? God who granted Satan permission to send the wind?" The old man drew another long, slow draft on the pipe. "Less you judge too quickly, I would not have you miss that it was God who started all of this when he says to Satan 'Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?'. The death of Job's children was part of the plan of God. So, how did Job respond? Job responded by mourning and worshiping God and saying 'Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.' God grants evil permission to kill his children and Job blesses God in response! Why? The answer is The gift of Job."

At this point the captain and crew were confused. The boat rolled and heaved in the heavy seas, and they clung to posts and beams to keep from being tossed about inside the ship. They looked down at the pale corpse of a little boy, none saw anything to give thanks or praise for. This was a day of sadness and fear, yet there was no fear in the Reverend. He seemed to have found something that allowed him to to offer genuine blessings and worship even in the middle of tragedy and danger. Each terrified man on that ship desperately wanted to know the secret of the Gift of Job if it would give them even a little of that. "Tell us, sir, 'bout this Gift of Job" said one of the crew from the back.

The Reverend smiled "Old Satan said to God 'Hast not thou made an hedge about him,' meaning Job, 'and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.' and like most good lies, there is more than a little truth in that. Even the Lord Himself said in Matthew 'For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even publicans the same?'. You see, when we offer blessings and praise to God, it's never really anything more than what God deserves. Any honest man should be honest enough with himself to see that he has done nothing special. Nothing praiseworthy. We have given God nothing more than his due."

"So if most of the people most of the time are just saying 'thank you' to God for all of the good that he has done for them, and that is nothing more than any sinner would do for some imaginary luck, what about when things are not going so good? What do you do when all of the evidence asks you to question whether or not God is even good? Here you have a choice. Do you blame God for all of the bad that happens? Do you withhold your worship and praise until God brings you through, until you can see his goodness again? Do you give God worship and praise in spite of the evidence in front of you?" He puffed calmly on his pipe and at peace with the moment "This is the Gift of Job."

A rogue wave struck the ship and it heaved violently, people lost footing and slid, along with the supplies, to one side and crashed into the hull. Boards creaked and groaned under the violent forces and water briefly leaked in between some of the planks. "Man the pumps" the captain cried out and several crewmen rushed to operate a hand pump that would remove the water from the bilge deep in the ship. Fear was written on the faces of all of the men, seamen and passengers alike. Even the captain looked nervous. All, that is, except the Reverend. He seemed but moderately annoyed that the water had doused his pipe.

"Things just kept getting worse and worse for Job until it looked like he was going to die. When he hit rock bottom, that's when Job said 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him'." He pointed the stem of his pipe at different men with each word for emphasis "God has provided us with a rare opportunity." The Reverend placed the pipe in his coat pocket "We may live and we may die. We may someday learn why one boy died and another man lived, or we may never know. However, right this minute, as all of our senses tell us that we have nothing to be thankful for, as we have no reason to hope or trust or expect, we have been given the rare and valuable Gift of Job. A chance to give something to God that he has not already earned, to give God praise and worship in spite of the evidence and trust that God will prove worthy of the trust we have in him. How often does any man really have a chance to give something to God."

"So what are you going to do with this special gift that you have been given? With this Gift of Job."

The Reverend removed his hat and began to pray with all of the passengers and crew joining in "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters ..."

In the morning, the storm had passed and the ship had survived. The passengers would go on to new lives in a New World and the crew would continue to sail on to distant ports. The ship even took on another cabin boy. However, no one who survived that storm was ever quite the same. Not because they had survived a storm, life is full of storms. They had all learned about the Gift of Job, and could never view trouble or God quite the same ever again.


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