Monday, August 28, 2006

Entry #65

The Threshold of Faith
by Nancy Callahan


Our entire congregation--286 souls strong--knelt atop the hill, watched the sun rise, and awaited salvation.

We'd spent weeks repenting. We'd unburdened ourselves of all our earthly belongings (land & livestock, tools & clothes). We were now as ready as ever to enter the Kingdom.

As the warm, windless day elapsed, sweat budded like holy water on our skin. We caught our breath at every sudden gust, every distant noise. We slowly, imperceptibly pivoted--as flowers do--to face the sun as it slid through the sky.

Yet the day died, and there was no indication that the Almighty had arrived.

It drizzled all night, and we huddled and prayed for a sign.

The next day was overcast: the hill seemed wounded, wrapped in gauze. Our clothes were soaked. Our joints ached.

In the afternoon, the first deserters--complaining of thirst, hunger--snuck away. We begged them to stay, for the sake of their souls; it did no good.

We spent the night conversing--quietly, piously--to ward off sleep, delirium, doubt. But we couldn't stop others from stealing off under the cover of darkness.

The third day, the sun was brutal. Sweat stung our eyes. Our shadows, tethered to swollen knees, circled us as if we were no more than sundials.

As the impassive sun sank from view, we gave up. We walked on unsteady legs down the hill, toward town.

Our only company, diffused through an airy quilt of clouds, was the moonlight: cold, pale, pure.

16 comments:

robert rohloff said...

You are on your way of rewriting the bible with the truth as we become more knowledgeable about the facts based on truth. Ha Ha (got ya) Good story, well written, and a joy to read.

Jim said...

People jumping the gun. Again. There's always a few who think they know the unknown. Nicely written.

Joni said...

Spectacular writing! Such descriptions. Bravo. Great, great job, Nancy.

Bernita said...

Really liked that "sundial" image!"
Good language.

anne frasier said...

beautiful, nancy.

loved this:
the hill seemed wounded, wrapped in gauze

and this: Our shadows, tethered to swollen knees, circled us as if we were no more than sundials.

wow.

thank you.

Marcail said...

Vivid images. Nice writing.

nicholas abbot said...

Nice imagery, and it gets better with each reading.

The Wandering Author said...

Wow! I have always tended to find those who prematurely predict the end of the world amusing, perhaps because my father was forever warning that the "Last Days" were at hand. That may be the first time I have ever thought of it from their point of view, and felt sympathy for them. I'm ashamed to admit that, but there it is. It took a powerful story to accomplish that.

briliantdonkey said...

Very nicely done Nancy, Loved the descriptions and they way you let doubt(of it happening) slowly creep into the story.

sandra seamans said...

I love the way you portray the waning of their faith. I can feel their thirst, the aching knees, and the sun beating down on their heads. Excellent!

Scott said...

This reminds me of the wonderful ending of Little Big Man, when the chief decides it is a good day to die, and closes his eyes. Then a raindrop causes his eye to twitch, etc, until he gets up and decides to try another day.

klgilbert said...

From start to finish very intriguing. My favorite line was the very last...powerful.

Bhaswati said...

I enjoyed reading this so much. The language is a treat to relish. It's a song. Thanks for sharing this beauty, Nancy. :)

Nancy R. Callahan said...

Thanks so much, everyone -- I really appreciate your comments. :)

Betina Krahn said...

Wonderfully complete story. Beautiful imagery. . . especially "pivoted-- as flowers do-- to face the sun." So visual.
But there was more! "sundials" and "gauze" wrapping the hill. . .
What a terrific snip of the landscape of the human heart.

jason evans said...

Powerful! I too have wondered about the end of world believers back in the 19th century who calculated the date of the end of the world using the Bible. One group checked their math after it didn't happen, got a different answer, but sadly appeared to be wrong again. Highest marks overall.