The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference had a writing contest listed on their website as part of this year's conference. The guidelines for the entry were as follows: "More than a contest, this is an opportunity to prayerfully consider our conference theme, "Write His Answer." In 500-800 words or a 12-30 line poem share how God is speaking to you. Poetry and prose by published and not-yet-published writers will be judged separately."
Here is my winning entry:
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
Turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
An hour into my walk through the woods I hear the gentle trickling of a stream in the distance. I step off the path to seek out this hidden treasure. In moments I see rays of sunshine reflecting on the green leaves cushioning the creek. I kneel at the water’s edge. I wonder if this is what heaven looks like? I lean forward ever so gently so I don’t disturb the frog watching from across the creek. With my hands cupped together I scoop some water and splash it on my face. Refreshed and cool, I pause.
I sit back and lift my face to the sky. The sun warms my face, evaporating the moisture from my skin. I close my eyes for a time of prayer, thanking God for this moment of peace and refreshment. As I open my eyes and lean down to take one last drink I notice there is a woman’s reflection in the water. I thought I was alone, where did she come from? I smile and she smiles back at me.
No words spoken. I lean closer for my drink, she leans in with me. I look at her, “Can I help you?” She mocks my words yet no sound is emitted. I shake my head and return to the task at hand. I lean close enough to the water that I feel the coolness on my cheeks with the aroma of fresh water. Before I can take a drink, I notice the woman is staring at me. What does she want?
“Hi, my name is Sam. Are you okay?” with no response a second time.
I tuck the loose hairs behind my ear, she copies my movements. I turn to look her in the eye, but she is gone. “Hello? Anyone there?” Not even a bird chirps a response.
As I turn, I notice the reflection in the water. She is back. I’ll ignore her this time, maybe she will speak first. Her gaze captures my heart. She looks as if she is searching for something…or is it someone. I scoop some water when PLOP!
“AHH!!!” Oh my goodness, it was just the frog.
Gentle ripples emerge from the epicenter, brushing the creeks bank. I place my hand in the water to feel the water massage my hand. I spy the frog beneath the surface, staring at me. I forget about the woman over my shoulder. I look back and she is there but this time wearing a more relaxed smile, almost a joyful look.
I brush the loose strands of hair from my face and she does the same. We have a similar cut but the color is different. Eloquent streaks of gray highlights compliment her years of experience. I find myself staring at her now; envious of her beauty and grace until the sadness appears in her eyes again.
Since she leaves when I turn to face her, I decide to brush her cheeks in her reflection. She is crying. I wipe her tears in the reflection until there are tiny droplets of water creating multiple ripples on the water’s surface. I look up but it isn’t raining. I look behind me, yet no one is there. I look back to the water – it is me!
Dear Jesus, Thank you for this moment of solitude and peace. I long to see her again, why did she have to leave so soon? I miss her. On bended knee I ask you Lord to bring her back. You know where she is and know why she left. Will I ever know the answer? Your Word says you will answer me, I pray you say yes this time. Thank you for listening to me today. I trust in you. Amen.
With one last splash of cool water on my face I realize the woman staring over my shoulder IS the answer to my prayer. She never left. She has been with me the whole time. I may have lost my sister to tragedy but I didn’t lose myself. I’ve been here the whole time. God has just been waiting for me to look up. Each gray highlight represents one year of my searching…only God knows the total I will have when I join Jesus for eternity.