Day 15 (A picture is worth a 1,000 words)

One day they weren’t there, and the next they were.

They had been left on the sidewalk, blithely placed in front of a brick walled apartment, some charming shrubbery.

At first people had walked past them, but then something would catch their eye. A boy had bounded down the steps for his morning paper route, hand checking the cap on his head that was threatening to free itself, and his gait was abruptly cut short by an odd shadow, a reflex of his eyes that searched for movement, kinetic energy, life, yet found none. Slowly he had traced his steps back and stood before the listless figures and stared. He looked for a very long while, and then eventually turned away and continued at a sober pace, a mysterious emotion playing in his eyes.

But, where had he found the clothes? they wondered. The bright pink coat on the girl provoked sadness for some reason, as she stood captivated by the man, clutching her small, black purse. The boy at attention like a soldier. What kind of paints could produce such startling, sharp realism? And their expressions, people would whisper.

The reactions were undependable. Many would pass by on their way to someplace else, notice, and decide to nervously ignore them, too afraid to stare as if the figures possessed a sense of propriety and the rudeness would become a palpable, real thing. Children would always ask to stop and look, and would even reach out to touch them, drawn to the children clutched by the stern man, and mothers would scold before remembering they weren’t real. A few women would gaze silently at the still family and tentatively pose beside the man as someone took a picture, pretending to be a wife and mother. Neighborhood kids rushing down the street on their bicycles would gather at the manikins as if they were a new club meeting spot.  Word spread and soon strangers came driving by just to catch a glimpse, to prove the rumors and stories they picked up while shopping for tunafish in isle 7, or while at church during meet and greet. Over black coffee in a friend’s parlor. A little girl stuck daisy chains on their heads, men would carefully study them, baffled and intrigued. They captivated everyone.

Then one morning the old man emerged from his room on the 8th floor, rode the elevator down to ground level and stepped outside. He was nearly ancient. His hair had gone completely white, his long beard snowy and soft. He wore an argyle seater vest over a white, button-down shirt, slacks, soft penny loafers and a wooden cane, which he did use. Something about him begged a sort of esoteric eccentricity, like he knew things. His neighbors always wondered what sort of hobbies kept him so occupied; no crackle and song emanated from the television during humid summer evenings. No morning papers, no parcels. Not even a dog.

He silently made his way to the manikins, back hunched over, and picked them up. Everyone kept perfectly still as he swayed first to the left, then to the right, and eventually steadied back on his heels. People in arm, he walked over to the double doors as a girl quickly opened them, and disappeared.

It took everyone a good while to reconcile the fact that the family was gone. No one ever figured out why he did what he did, what was the purpose in making them, because they never asked him.

And he never told.

DP writing challenge

Day 14 (daily prompt)

Pick a random word and do Google image search on it. Check out the eleventh picture it brings up. Write about whatever that image brings to mind.


Palpable.

It brings to mind safety. To hold onto aged, strong hands and know that whomever it is will be able to take care of it, anything. It makes me think of when (or if) I’m a parent, and to hold my child’s hand in my own, or to keep my grandchild’s fingerings comfortably in my own, and I know when (or if) that every happens, I will feel blessed beyond measure. In awe that God intrusted me with a soul and heart. Dang, when I was young I never expected to desire children of my own, but that would be remarkable.

Day 13

Today I worked 12 hours, and then drove another four so I could be in Oregon.

So I can vote.

I considered not bothering, but then realized I was unwilling to sacrifice a few days worth of time to help dictate who will be the leader of my country for the next four years. And that proved to be entirely unacceptable and lame. So I’m here, and I’m going to vote. And then I’m going to pray. Don’t be a pansy, and vote.

Day 12

He met her gaze and saw the fury churning in her gray eyes, unwavering as the sea, gloomy. He could not bear it and turned away. His love, his desire, could not be tempered by her anger. As she realized this, something within her lost all hope. She felt her life slip out of her grasp, and inwardly she died. Her cheeks still held their color, her body kept it’s strength, yet her spirit fell cold.

She had not thought it would be this way. A new way of life was so tempting, a life filled with different textures and sensations, different emotions. She had also known what would happen if she chose to reveal herself, had known what was to happen and be since she first laid eyes on him.

She looked out onto what she had sacrificed; the sea was rife and troubled, the spray reaching to the sky as the waves crashed against each other. But she knew what lay beneath.  She knew that sound of peace that rested just below the surface, the calm and silance that permeated the soul.

A pang of physical hurt shot through her heart for a moment, half a moment, before it turned to stone.

She turned to him, and he saw her mouth set and the color of her eyes grow dim.  Her tone was dispassionate as she spoke to him for the first time, “Come, my husband, and take us to your dwelling.” For a brief moment he considered giving back what he took, but then he realized how the darkness of her eyes matched the splendor of the midnight blue sky, how her irises glimmered faintly like stars, and he was lost forever. He slowly folded the seal skin and tucked it under his arm. With his free hand he carefully took her by the elbow and guided her out of the rocks. She followed without resistance. She looked over her shoulder on last time, and she allowed herself a trace of wistful sadness for her children when the time came for her to leave them.

For a time when she could no longer bear the call of the sea, and came home.

Day 11

You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later they’re as dull as a brick? Then there’s other people, when you meet them you think, “Not bad. They’re okay.” And then you get to know them and… and their face just sort of becomes them. Like their personality’s written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful.

— Amy Pond

Day 9

Why do I always save this for 2 am? Why.

The other night I was ranting to my sister.

Last week they had to talk to me at work, and assigned me a captain to ‘get me better trained” and “up to speed,” because the manager, Brian, had given them instruction to do so, most likely because someone had talked to him about me.

7 months. I’ve been working here 7 freaking months, and I need training. It’s just a job, sure, but there’s just something about failing at going into mission, being away from all your family, friends and church, not knowing what to do with your life, and then your work. Work. 7 months, and I still don’t have it. A lot of it had to do with poor training to begin with, but then there was a part of me that knew without a doubt it was also just me. 100% Lucy, and it wasn’t enough, and it got to me. Deep. As I found myself making even more mistakes that night, I nearly started crying. I just didn’t know what to do.

And oh my word I found myself getting so frustrated with myself, and I started thinking of a story shared with my coworker, Shane. At my last job, when I lived in Cannon Beach, I had dropped someone’s debit card into the gap of the counter, and the customer was vacationing and planned to return to Canada the next day, so getting it out wasn’t an option. My boss had to bring a buzz saw and literally cut the counter away to get the card. Shane said they must’ve not wanted me to come back, and I told him no, they did. In fact, they’d hire me again on the spot if I wanted my waitressing job back. I was good at my job. When I walked in the door they felt relieved because they know I knew what I was doing. I was competent.

And every single day as I walked to work, I would pray and ask God to make a servant. To make me useful and a blessing, and to watch over me at work. Every. Day. And I haven’t been doing that at all lately, and It as just overwhelmingly frustrating that I can’t do a simple thing like go to my job without praying first. I mean, I fail at everything unless I bring it to the Lord. I can’t do it on my own, and I wanted to scream for struggling with such simple things. I know I asked God to make me a prayer warrior, but it totally and completely sucks to feel so useless.

That’s when my sister began to laugh. “I do it myself!” she said.

In my house that phrase is synonymous with my 3 year old self. It was my mantra through physical therapy and rehabilitation.

I do it myself.

Alright God. I get it.

Lord, you are far to good to me. Thank you. Please help me. I need it.

This maturing thing never seems to get any easier.

Day 8

You know what’s beautiful? When you love someone for who they are, not for who you would like them to be, and certainly not for what they do for you. It’s a beautiful feeling to extend and accept grace. To look at that person who has treated you miserably and experience that moment where you almost physically exhale, and you let it go. You pause where you stand with that measuring tape, mesmerized by yellow and black marking the inches and millimeters, and you finally set it down. And when you set it down your arms finally stop aching and you want to cry from relief.

I was listening to a woman share a story on the radio. Growing up she had a terrible father who treated her and her siblings ill, and her mother deplorably. But something her mother said once when she was in her twenties stuck in her heart- “Oh honey. If he knew Jesus, he wouldn’t be that way.” And as she continued her story, the woman said her mother, “loved him into the Kingdom of God.” When her father grew irate, demanding his notebook as he usually did one evening, she answered him in gentleness, “I know right where it is, just a moment.” She quickly fetched it, and handed it to him, saying, “here it is.” And Her father stood still for a moment, captivated by a spirit of grace instead of confronting an attitude of retaliation and anger.

And as I was driving home from my brother’s house, listening to this woman, I felt peace. I know what it’s like to wearily hold onto my measuring tape, and then have Christ, that King of Glory, roll away the door to his tomb and stand before me, allowing me to trace the marks left on his work-worn hands. Not that he cured an unbelief, but to prove that I had been forgiven. And that was His pursuit.

To search for mercy and grace. You guys, you have to understand this. Why is gentleness so startling? How does grace contain the power to check anger and subdue envy, strife, and bitterness? I wonder sometimes how it could all be true. This God thing. That Jesus guy. It seems to fantastical and absurd.

But then I am shown mercy, and something within me softens and is compelled, and I know. Just like the clay remembers who molded and shaped it, I know. It’s like recognizing your own handwriting, and then knowing the One who taught you to write at all. It’s incredible. The human soul is incredible the same way a fine work of art is incredible – not because of the color of the paints or the quality of the canvas, but how the artist rendered them. On their own they are nothing.

And grace.

Hmmm. . . grace is His paintbrush.