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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)

TITLE: The Day
By Helen Paynter


The Day

It is time.
The tenth day of the seventh month.
The Day when I may go into The Presence.
The Day when I must go into The Presence.

I stand alone.
The acrid smell of burnt fat lingers in my nostrils. Smooth pine cools my feet. Dread is clutching at my guts.

The crowd is assembled, silent, expectant. I can see the scared eyes of my family upon me. They know the stories. Uzzah, the Kohathite, struck down for touching The Ark. Nadab and Abihu, consumed by the fire of YHWH for approaching Him incorrectly.

And I, High Priest of Israel, must venture all and go into the Most Holy Place.

Am I ready? The ceremonial washing is finished. The jewelled breastplate and golden ephod are set aside. Today I wear simple linen from head to foot. Ceremonially clean… but He will see my heart. What foolish wisdom is it that sends a sinful man to make atonement for a sinful nation? But provision has been made for this, too. The first sacrifice must be a bull to atone for my own sin.

The hopes of the nation pressing on me are suffocating. For ten days, the court in Heaven has been in deliberation. Ten days since the Feast of Trumpets announced its commencement. And today will come the verdict. Will there be mercy and cleansing again this year? The people fast…and wait.
Their only hope: that I go in.
My only hope: that I approach in the manner He has prescribed.

I hold a censer of burning coals and two handfuls of fine incense to burn when I enter. Fragrant smoke to screen me from the Shekina, and to signal to the people I am in The Presence. Face to face with YHWH. One man standing in the place of the people.

And there will be so much blood! So much blood to atone for so much sin. Cover the mercy seat with blood, and maybe He will have mercy on us for another year.

The veil is ahead of me, thick and unyielding. It seals the Most Holy Place from the rest of the Temple. And through that curtain I must go. I alone, of all people on earth. And on this day alone, in all the year.

Will my prayers be heard? Will I be able to endure The Presence? This I do know: I would rather see the Shekina glory of YHWH and be consumed in the same moment, than live endless days outside the curtain.

I bear the nation’s sins.
I will enter.
It is time.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 03/07/06
I really enjoyed this picture. A nice take on the topic and excellent message. The only thing I might change is this line: "The acrid smell of burnt fat lingers in my nostrils. Smooth pine cools my feet. Dread is clutching at my guts." The "smooth pine cools my feet" seems to contradict the rest of the picture. How about "pine needles pricked my feet"? Great job.
c clemons03/08/06
Very good. I think this is the first time I have ever imagined what the High Priest must have felt like on the day of atonement. You might want to include as part of the ceremonial dress the bells around his ankles.
Cheryl Harrison03/08/06
Wow! This is very, very good. My heart was touched by the perspective of the High Priest, especially these thoughts...

"Their only hope: that I go in.
My only hope: that I approach in the manner He has prescribed."

The only thing I stumbled over was the word "guts"...I wasn't sure if it should be plural or if it should be singular..."gut". Might check on that.

Anyway...I loved this. Polish it up and submit it somewhere...even if it doesn't place in the challenge. Thanks for writing it.
Suzanne R03/13/06
Wow - you've really brought this to life! What an awesome take on 'enter'! Great writing.
Jessica Schmit03/13/06
This was beautiful Helen.

Great job on placing in the top five. Thanks for all your kind words you give to all of us!
Thomas Kimble03/16/06
Good job and I liked it. Thank you for looking at my writing and if you can offer any help as to where I should put commas and such please do so. I was never good in english but I keep trying. Hope to some day get it right.
Thank You
Teresa Hollums03/17/06
Great Writing!! I really felt for the priest. I thought you were going to tie it in with Jesus--but I was surprised a bit by the ending.
Drew Scot04/13/06
An incredible visual. I always thought I had a decent perspective on the sacrifice and the Holy of Holies, but through your short piece I feel I have an inside look.
Great job!
Beth Muehlhausen04/17/06
Great visual/emotional involvement. Very well done, very involving!! You've captured this moment well - and at the gut level, no less....