Life and Death

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers, where every story is a surprise. We are an international community of writers who get together once a week to write flash fiction. Our lovely leader, author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, posts the photo prompt on her blog, Addicted to Purple.

I’m glad to be back after a brief hiatus. On occasion, my muse goes missing and I have to chase after her (or him). Have I found my muse again? You be the judge! Tell me in your comments 🙂

path-dale-rogerson

Photo Copyright: Dale Rogerson

 

Life and Death

by Jan Brown

Jenny walked the long pathway. The rising sun lit the way, heating the cold stone. On each side, wondrous adventures loomed. Beautiful gardens, inviting beaches, sprawling cities. There were also darker paths with an edgy feel. Certainly riskier exploits awaited there! She longed for the exhilaration, the thrill of accomplishment.

Was she on the right path? So many choices–just like life.

Does He really have a plan for any of this? If so, Jenny wished He would just come out and tell her! But nooooooooo…He leaves it up to her to decide which path to take.

Just like life.

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…The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.  – Luke 1:78-79

To read other Fictioneers’ stories, click the blue froggy thing:

What I Want for Christmas

Magi

What I Want for Christmas

the gift of love

and health

and time

and money

not necessarily in that order

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a chance to see peace

to see justice

to see the end of xenophobia

to see Donald Trump withdraw

which would, of course, be prerequisite to the above

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a fine bottle of wine

and friends to share it

a low carb Christmas dinner

a recliner to welcome my aching bones

Christmas jazz and family chats

~~~

let me hear

angels singing of good will

let me witness

modern wise men–and women–acting on faith

let the world be filled with the hope He gifted us so long ago

and loving hearts to share it

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The Nativity scene.

The Nativity scene at the Grotto in Portland

Carrying the Light

I’m late with my Friday Fictioneers contribution this week. The photo prompt, as some of you may know, is published Wednesday morning. I contemplated the ornate light fixture in the photo and copied it onto my hard drive, as usual.

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The photo reminded me of some lovely chandeliers I’ve seen in churches, but I had no idea what to write.

That night, I procrastinated and scrolled through my twitter feed instead of writing. I came across breaking stories from various news media and was horrified to learn of the vicious hate crime in Charleston, a mass shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The cold-hearted shooting of a church prayer group…how do we reconcile the irony, the inhumanity?

The historic status of the church and its founder, Denmark Vesey, was mentioned in the first two articles I read. This church has suffered unthinkable losses in the past. The church was founded in 1816 by black congregants who left their predominantly white churches over issues of discrimination. It was burned down in 1822 when its pastor was convicted of planning a slave revolt. When the laws of that era prohibited all-black churches, the members had to meet in secret. The church survived all of this and was rebuilt at the end of the civil war, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. In the twentieth century, the church was the site of seminal civil rights speeches and demonstrations, including a mass arrest of more than 900 protesters in 1969.

Now they have suffered more unthinkable losses. As I read the articles and watched the news videos, two questions gnawed at me: 1) Why are we the only advanced nation to have mass shootings on a seemingly regular, if not frequent, basis; and 2) Why, in a country that has the most ethnically diverse population of any country on Earth, do we still have racial hatred? The answer to the first question is fairly obvious.  The answer to the second is so complex as to be incomprehensible, but I’m sure we’ll hear many sociologists, psychologists, journalists, pundits and random internet trolls try to break it down for us in the coming days/weeks/months.  I welcome that discussion with open ears.

Meanwhile, the only answer I have is love.

I try to wrap my head around the so-incredible level of love and forgiveness displayed by the families of the victims at the shooter’s bond hearing. No one said it better than Alana Simmons, the granddaughter of one of the victims. She spoke directly to the shooter, saying, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love. Hate won’t win.” (Source: NBCNews.com)

Mother Emanuel will be open for Sunday services today. The light they carry into the world is witness to God’s love and to our human potential to love, rather than hurt, each other.  I hope my little poem reflects that light.

Photo by Stephen Hyatt http://photos.thechurchesoftheworld.com/Charleston-SC-Churches/Mother-Emanuel-AME/

Photo by Stephen Hyatt
Source: photos/thechurchesoftheworld.com

Carrying the Light

by Jan Brown

Why do churches have such lovely chandeliers? Perhaps…

To remind us there is something irresistibly beautiful, something higher and more permanent than our imperfect selves.

To remind us of the beauty that can shine from just one beacon, even in a world otherwise devoid of light.

To focus the still-bright light of  our lost loved ones, so that we will not flounder in the dark.

To infuse love, the kind of love that shines on every living being, the kind of love that will never falter, never flicker out, never discriminate and never be darkened, no matter how deep the night.

shooting victims

Source: NBCNews.com

Mother Emanuel’s light shines now, this very moment. I pray that everyone will let it in.

Amen.

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Friday Fictioneers is a lovely community of writers from around the world. My blog this week was a departure from the usual form. Normally we post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. To read more stories of every conceivable genre, or to post your own, click here.

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NaPoWriMo 20 – Who Followed Me

I’ve been under the weather, so this post is late. The NaPoWriMo challenge for April 20th was to write a poem in the voice of a close relative. I hope this captures the voice–and experience–of my father.

Who Followed Me

by Jan Brown

mourning doves and blue jays
found my new feeders
when I moved four blocks
down the street

blackbirds and goldfinches
followed me
so did the squirrels, dammit
and the cancer cells

happiness is fleeting
a bird flushed by a predator
taking off with a whoosh
a whistle of wings

it could be the sound of fear
a fruitless escape attempt
endless flitting
accomplishing nothing

it could be the sound of mourning
longing for what was
hoping for a do-over
grieving in advance

or it could be the sound of hope
faith in what will be
and what always has been
since the beginning of time

it was the Dove of peace
who followed me
in His steadfast patience
and carried me Home at last

 

Tracks to Nowhere

Nowhere Train (or Train to Atlantis), a photo by innoxiuss on Flickr

I saw this haunting photo online today. The tracks to nowhere are indicative of so many things in our lives: the paths that led us away from our goals, the endeavors that consumed countless hours, days or years and led nowhere, or the paths that led to something amazing, but that amazing thing no longer exists.

As life suddenly changes, we are stranded and may not be able to see a way back. This is where I find myself after a long and trying illness.  I fight daily to find my way back.  I am not always moving in the right direction, and I’ve been stranded for quite some time, but I have faith that I will build a new set of tracks, and it will lead somewhere amazing.