Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)
TITLE: Karsten's Bible
By Karen Jimmy
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Shuddering, Karsten hunkered down deeper in the broad collar of his coat as he surveyed the quiet landscape. In the five years he’d been posted out here, he’d not once laid eyes on the Sami people who supposedly occupied the area. Many of them still lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, herding reindeer for survival. But, to date, the only sign he’d seen of them was a peculiar carving on a broken wooden fence. It had to be in their language, because he could make no sense of it. Some of the words were weathered beyond any hope of deciphering, but some could still be read. If only I could find someone who understands it, he thought out loud.
A shuffling noise to his right gave Karsten a sudden shock. Whirling around, his torchlight found it’s mark- an old Sami man.
“Who are you? What’s your business out here at this hour?” Officer Lassen hated interrogating people like this, but since the war broke out all of Europe was walking on eggshells, living in fear of espionage and betrayal. It seemed many were afraid of their own shadows. The old man, however, didn’t seem to mind. Grinning broadly, he extended his arm in greeting.
“Good evening, I am returning to my home. I was visiting friends in the grove, beyond that fence,” the old man replied.
“The grove? Just through those trees?” A light came on in the soldier’s mind. He knew who would finally interpret for him the meaning of the inscription on the fence. “What kind of meeting does an old man have in an icy grove in the middle of nowhere so late at night?” Before the old man could answer, Lassen jumped in with another question.
“Wait- first, I must know something. It’s been bothering me for several years. Can you tell me what that writing says, on the fence?” Seeing the twinkle in the old man’s eyes at this, he added, “Does it have something to do with your meeting?”
“It’s not all there now- some has been damaged. But what is left of it, reads thus: ‘suddu sudduijorraleapmi dahkat gáhtamuša ipmilballu áddegoahtit áltár beassášbeaivi Áhèèemin albmi addit ándagassii’. It means something like, ‘Mankind sinned and fell away, we feel sorry and we fear God. But we are starting to understand the sacrifice and Easter, our Father in Heaven’s forgiveness.’ We meet here, young man, and have done so for centuries, my people, in honour of the Sin Bearer, the son of our Father in Heaven. We do not have all the truth, and we do not know the end of the story. The soul of our people grows weary, but we wait and believe that someday, we will receive the forgiveness we seek.”
Quite unprepared for this honest and heartfelt reply, Officer Lassen found himself overcome. Five years, he thought to himself, five long icy years in this barren place, and now, Lord, on my last night here I finally understand why I had to come.
Fishing in the pocket of his coat, Karsten pulled out his grandmother’s little old, well-worn Bible. Handing it to the old man and blinking back tears, he said, “You and your people will find the answers you seek written on the pages of this book.”
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