Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: The Gathering Place
By Laura Anne Harrison
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Crossing over the cold, rippling waters of the small stream by way of the aged wooden bridge, Rachel veered left onto the dusty narrow road that led beyond the empty, plowed-up cornfield and the cow pasture toward the weathered frame house. Pushing her right foot down slowly on the breaks and bringing the car to a complete stop, her eyes silently scanned the vacant cornfield that appeared as desolate and barren as it always had when the harvesting, the shucking, and the canning of corn were completed.
As Rachel released the car’s breaks and continued toward the old house, the mellow tenor voice of her grandfather, as he guided the mule-powered plow across the rich dirt of the cornfield, echoed across seventeen years of a former time and wrapped her in his hymn of praise. For one small moment in the span of life’s seasons, she became again a pre-teen in rolled-up overalls. Sinking her small bare feet into the moist furrowed ground, she walked beside him, dropping corn pellet-seeds into the fresh plowed earth, and joined him in song. . .“This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears, all nature sings and round me rings, the music of the spheres....”
The thought that relatives and friends were not far behind tiptoed quickly in and out of Rachel’s thoughts, as she parked the car beside the small flower patch near the spacious front porch and gingerly ascended the three wide steps that led to the house. Reaching for the latch, she paused as her eyes met the square wooden board that her grandfather nailed to the front door on the day he brought her grandmother home as his new bride. Her fingers slowly traced the letters of the words that his loving hands chiseled into the pine: "This Home, built upon The Rock, is a Gathering Place filled with Joy and Thanksgiving, and all who enter here find themselves in the Presence of God."
A gigantic smile spread itself all over Rachel’s face, as she hastily pushed opened the old pine door and spoke half-aloud to herself, “That is so-o-o grandfather! For him, everyday is Thanksgiving Day!”
She paused before entering the house, as her ears gathered the distant music of the small pump organ that sat against the empty driver’s seat of the mule-drawn wagon making its way from Bethany Methodist Church Cemetery down the winding dirt road to the house. Turning toward the lively serenade, she faced her grandfather at the organ keyboard and an angelic host of families, neighbors, and friends, walking behind the wagon in perfect cadence with the song they vigorously sang. . . “Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. . .”
As everyone gathered near the house, Rachel’s grandfather joined her on the porch, faced the assemblage with a smile and open arms, and began to speak. “Every single moment of the last 47 years, my dear wife, Ella Mae, filled this home with joy and thanksgiving. Today, she left this earth for God’s Heavenly Home and, with the same joy and thanksgiving that she lived within these walls, she now sings His Praise with the angels throughout the streets of Eternity. Come, let us join her song.”
Across the sunlit farmland, the never-ending song rang out, “This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long. . .” In the hours that followed, the Blessed Assurance wove itself in and out among all who gathered there, as they shared and remembered. . .
As the sun crawled into the night, college exams beckoned Rachel . . . Tears stood on the edges of her eyes, as she promised, “I’ll be back by Thanksgiving, Granddaddy. . . ”
“Honey, any day is Thanksgiving when you are here”. . .
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