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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)

TITLE: Peace below the bubbles
By Bronwyn Johnson


My retreat – my sanctuary – is my bathroom. Not very glamorous, I know but as I slide down and my head disappears below the bubbles, the whole world shuts off and I feel my whole body relax as the stress and tension soaks away in some wonderful aroma-therapeutic bubble bath. The whiny voices of my two sons arguing in the house, the noise of the television, barking of dogs and traffic outside all becomes a blurred background hum to my own breathing and heartbeat amplified by the water.

It is my twenty minutes of “Mommy time” that I treasure each day. Usually though, the hardest thing to switch off is my mind and it is during my moments below the bubbles that I have opportunity to think. As the irritation, caused by work stress and small domestic battles, starts to subside, the good memories come to light.

Just this week I walked into the house to discover every teddy bear in the neighbourhood sitting on my couch, under all the bed linen we possess, each one wearing an expensive Huggies Pull-up (disposable diaper) and two smiling children shouting “SURPRISE!” as they jumped up and bumped a tray of water paints onto the carpet. I’d been working on a very important tender proposal at the office all week, had about seven articles due the following day and was trying to finalise a manuscript for hopeful publication, my husband was on a trip and I had only two hours to cook supper, bath kids and get them to bed by eight o‘clock – it was not a good time and I felt the last two millimetres of rope threaten to snap.

“Mommy is going to bath!” I whispered harshly through clenched teeth, dropping my laptop, briefcase and handbag onto the tiles with a thud.

“Ah oh!” - two simultaneous responses. Quick as a flash they disappeared into their room.

Then two minutes after I’d settled into the warm water I remembered the picture of a herd of teddies neatly arranged on my couch; cute cuddly creatures wearing grins on their buttoned nosed faces and super high quality diapers. I burst out in laughter until the tears poured down my face. And then the embarrassment came. Why do I offer the best of me at work and elsewhere until I have nothing left to give my children when I get home? What good is that? I could have summoned up enough energy to smile at least. When I had the perfect parent as an example to follow, why was I failing my own children?

I thought about my last few conversations with my dad and fragments came to mind, “Lord, please give me strength. Please help me. I need this… I need that… Please … give… help… HELP! Oops, did something wrong, sorry…. Look at what is going on! Do something about it, please! HELP!” I wondered whether He ever needed to sink below some heavenly bubbles to take refuge and retreat from me at times.

Yet our Father says, “Come unto Me, you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). The perfect parent, He is our retreat. Like soldiers struggling under battle, who run back into their fortress for security – we can run to Him when life gets too tough. David called Him “My refuge and my fortress, My God in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2). This is what a perfect parent offers their child.

A little later, towelled dry and more relaxed, I called my children.

“How was your day?” I asked and their little faces broke out into two beaming smiles, as words bubbled out enthusiastically. I decided that for once I would let them come to me and I would try to be their retreat. They can feel safe, secure and as important to me as I know I am to God. The tender would have to wait until working hours. I’d have to call my editor for an extension on the articles and the book… well Its been five years already, what’s another day?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Brandi Roberts08/09/05
Loved this!! Unfortunately for me the bathtub is not a place of sanctuary as my son yells at me in his own little 10-month-old voice if he's not in the tub with me.
Very well put-together. Perhaps you should think about going Advanced?
Debra Brand08/10/05
Good story.
dub W08/11/05
Beth Muehlhausen08/11/05
Liked this realization: "I decided that for once I would let them come to me and I would try to be their retreat."
Julianne Jones08/13/05
I can relate to this - both the bath as a retreat and the giving of the best of ourselves to others. Easy to read with a much-needed message. Thanks for sharing.