The challenge: a piece of writing called Rediscovery:
She had lost the music. It used to pulse through her like the rhythms of her own blood, but now there was only silence, or a dreadful, jumbled cacophony of sound. She was not sure which was worse. The unmusical noise lacerated her, until she felt like her very spirit was bleeding, the silence froze her with the grief of unimaginable loss. Either way, there was no song, no beauty, no meaning. She didn’t even know how she had lost it; she only knew that it had gone. And, because she didn’t know how it was lost, she didn’t know how it could be regained.
For a long time she grieved, and sometimes screamed with her frustration, and then heard those feelings mirrored back to her in silence and sound. Something would have to change. Otherwise she would die, from the long, slow starvation of her spirit.
So she began to look at what she could change, and started to realise how many things in her life were things she didn’t actually like, or else things she did for no better reason than because she was afraid. And because she was afraid, she started with small changes. She went to bed when she was tired and got up in the morning when she woke up, throwing out the alarm clock. She stopped listening to the advertisements; after a few months she didn’t listen to the radio at all. She stopped going to late night parties with people she didn’t even like, drinking things that tasted foul, and wearing clothes that were too revealing just because she thought it was expected of her. She went walking in the rain, even though her mother had always told it wasn’t sensible. She grew a flower in a pot on the windowsill, just because it was lovely, and served no other “useful” purpose except to manifest loveliness. She grew out her hair, she dared to wear pretty colours, she started re-reading her favourite childhood books: Winne-the-Pooh, Narnia, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Prince. She impulsively gave money to charity. She turned upside-down beetles up the right way and left crumbs on her windowsill for the sparrows.
And one Sunday, just on impulse, she went to church. It wasn’t a “proper”, theologically correct church like her parents used to take her to, it wasn’t large, didn’t have a band, and obviously didn’t have much money, either. There was no car park, and only one minister’s name on the dingy noticeboard. There were a dozen elderly people, a couple of young women with toddlers in their arms, and a woman with no hair, probably battling cancer. The minister was an old man, with a gentle voice. He spoke without a microphone, and she had to concentrate to hear him. He talked about the love of God as if it was something real, something you could actually experience. And then one of the old ladies got up, stood at the front, and, in a rather quavery voice, began to sing:
“Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling ... come home .. you who are weary come home ..”
She was crying, and as the tears washed down her face she realised that the something inside her had changed. It was the music, soft and low, but clear and absolute. And this time there were words to it: “Because I am loved forever, I can love.”