Category Archives: Student Spotlight

How to Grow a Story

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by Sarah McDaniel, Class of 2017

When people think of writing, they think about one of the following things: school or books. Writing is so much more than that. It goes beyond the persuasive paragraph and the expository essay. It is all about imagination and dedication.

It all starts with a little idea. This small idea is like a seed in a garden. From this seed roots start growing. These roots turn into a character, then two, then they become a landscape, a picture in the depths of your mind. Just like tending a plant, it takes a lot of time and work to make this idea perfect. Soon, the plot and climax grow, then finally you’re ending. You step back to see your idea has grown into an amazing story.

However, you don’t stop there. You keep editing. In other words, you provide the environment for your plant to thrive in. Sometimes you will go through a drought where you have no words to add. Eventually, you will get the perfect story. You just need to find the right inspiration, that first, tiny seed. It can be anything from a storm in the sky to a dog running astray. Some people write about a popular band or their favorite television show. For certain individuals it is easier to write about facts and prove points, while for others imagination is the key as he or she writes about a girl who lived in the 1700s.

Writing can do much more than just entertain. Writing gives one a chance to escape his or her troubles and become part of a new life. It can give you a fresh perspective. Everybody is a writer. Passion is behind every story and is therefore within every writer. Relating back to the original analogy, passion is what drives you to find the perfect seed for your story. Then, you keep this passion and grow your entire garden. The art of writing may be difficult, but it can help you in so many ways.

Parable and Paradox: Rethinking Predestination

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By Heath Padgett, Class of 2016

In the New Testament, one of the most common and effective ways Jesus explained various truths was through parables. A parable, as defined by the Webster’s Dictionary, is a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle. Thus, when it comes to the proper balance between freewill and predestination, a great way to understand the concept is through parables. Since both ideas are implicitly and explicitly revealed through Scripture, Christians must not believe in only one yet not the other. Instead, a Christian must believe first that God chose him and that he must also choose God. How is it, though, that both coexist so perfectly? The simplest way to describe the belief is through a parable:

A man gives all women a chance to marry him as long as they get to know him on a personal level. He also determines ahead of time how and whom he will propose to. He knows for certain his future bride will love him with all her heart, for he would not ask if he knew otherwise. As a result, he proposes. The woman has the freewill to say yes during the proposal and is held fully responsible for her actions.

Now, as was done by Jesus after the Parable of the Sower, this new parable must be explained. Predestination is the belief that events in the lives of humans have been planned out ahead of time by Yahweh, while freewill is the ability to act as a result of one’s own choice. This idea of predestination is demonstrated by the man planning out the event of his and his bride’s future marriage. Following this, all people have a “choice” or freewill to choose God if they desire to know Him on a personal level just like the man in the parable. However, if a person is not first chosen by God, then that person will not be the “bride” of Christ. God’s elect resides in those whom He knows will love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds. Likewise, a man usually does not first choose a wife unless he knows the same. Also, it is the full responsibility of the wife to choose her husband, even though she has first been chosen by him. If the wife does not say, “I do,” then the marriage cannot go forward. The same is true with Christians. Christians must accept Jesus as their own and place all their trust unto Him.

Although this exact parable is not stated in the Bible itself, the Gospels repeatedly refer to Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church. Furthermore, the parable, although it does not completely explain the ideas of predestination and freewill coexisting, aids in understanding the basic existence of the two.

Chapel: Laying the Foundation

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By Olivia Godfrey, Class of 2016

The Westminster School at Oak Mountain has much that sets it apart. One of these features is chapel. The worship at Westminster’s Chapel is student led. A variety of students participate, from seventh grade all the way to twelfth. These students are gifted by God both instrumentally and vocally. Chapel also gives students a chance to take a break from the typical busyness of schoolwork to learn about and worship the Lord.

Chapel usually occurs about five times during the school year, normally on a Thursday. There are both All School and Upper School chapels that take place throughout the course of the year. “All School” Chapel creates the opportunity for grades kindergarten through twelfth to come together and worship the Lord, while Upper School chapels are reserved specifically for Upper School students and staff. This creates a different atmosphere than the “All School” Chapel in that it is a smaller group, and has less of an age gap between the students.

The service normally begins with a student led or faculty led prayer. Then the students are led in a time of worship by the Chapel band and singers. This time of worship usually consists of about three songs. After this, there is a brief time of teaching given by a chosen pastor or teacher. Once this time of teaching ends, a final song is sung. To close the Chapel service, a student or teacher will close in prayer.

At the beginning of each year, a theme is chosen to be the focus of the songs and the messages over the course of the year. This creates a focal point so that there is a clear direction in which the teachings and songs will go. For example, this year’s chapel theme is the virtues of faith, hope, and love. The teachings and songs all reflect these three aspects of the Christian life. This creates a plan and purpose for all of the chapels as the year goes on. It also means that each song that is chosen to be sung or each lesson taught will tie into the theme for the year.

The overall purpose of chapel is to take time from the school day and to refocus on God. This is refreshing and encouraging at the same time. Not only is this the case for students, but teachers as well.

As Westminster continues to grow as a school, community, and family, it will be crucial that we invite God to be present in everything. Chapel is one of the ways that we intend to do this.

Out of Control: How Cultural Values Encourage Unbelief

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by Josh Moore, Class of 2014

In modern culture, the existence of God has become quite controversial. Many deny the existence of God, and instead accept the implausible existence of evolution or aliens. Why does today’s society so reject the concept of a higher power?

One major emphasis in today’s society is the concept of control. People enjoy “controlling” their own lives, enjoying the feeling that they can do as they want without the help or guidance of anyone else. This selfish desire for control shows up in all stages of life, from a two year old demanding that he can do everything by himself, to an elderly woman insisting she can drive, despite the fact that she failed the drivers test. Society has reared multiple generations who believe that they can successful control their own lives.

The concept of God threatens this desire for control. If there is a being who is not only more powerful than humankind, but created man for his own purpose, that means control of every life should be in His hands. Since He is supposedly the creator of all, everything, including personal ambitions, belongs to him. Therefore, humans should have no control over their own lives. Evolution, or even aliens, provides a much more comfortable explanation, because control is still personal. Why then should anyone believe in God, if they can instead reject Him and keep the feeling of control?

Ultimately in today’s society, comfort is valued over reason. This is why explanations for creation such as evolution and aliens hold prevalence, even though they seem absurd to a logical person. Truth has become relative; whatever feels best and is most comfortable must be right. The concept of God is not comfortable or pleasurable, therefore God must not exist. The entire point of Christianity is relinquishing control to God and following his plan and call. Furthermore, Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12).” The history of Christianity, as well as many other religions, is not one of worldly comfort and pleasure, but instead one of intense persecution. This concept threatens society’s emphasis on comfort and frightens many people today. But instead of recognizing the truth, they instead turn to foolishness.

Comfort and control have become the gods of today’s society. American culture centers on giving people whatever they want and letting them do whatever they want. This is why entertainment businesses succeed so well. Television, movies, books, video games, and all other forms of entertainment pull people into another world, which is much more controllable and comfortable than reality. The desire for control and comfort that runs modern culture is not necessarily a verbal objection to God; instead it is a major cause of all other vocalized objections. People aren’t willing to voice their fear of losing control and comfort, so they develop other means of rejecting anything that threatens them. Society has been blinded, and it will take the work of God to make them see.

Prayer: Laying the Foundation

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by Ethan Shaw, Class of 2015

Our Westminster community is extremely blessed. Over the past year we have witnessed a vision unfold for a new Upper School campus followed by a successful capital campaign in the spring of this year. In recent weeks we broke ground together, and now everyone anxiously watches as construction begins. Looking back on the journey thus far, it is hard to deny the evidence of God’s favor in the midst of all the obstacles that had to be overcome. The dream is finally becoming a reality. But now what?

cinderblock01Many will view this next year as a period of waiting, a blank page between two chapters in the book of Westminster. This certainly in many ways is a time of transition. Still, we must not be lured into setting our focus solely on the hope of the coming years. Doing so will let us miss the work that God is doing in our midst right now. As the new campus is being built, God is likewise building faith in us to trust His plans. That is the most important object of all. Truly this is a pivotal year. God is calling us to a higher standard of sincerity in our pursuit of wisdom, virtue, and eloquence.

In response to this call, a group of Upper School students has started to come together for weekly lunchtime prayer gatherings. Such meetings have been going on in some form for the past two years. This year, however, the design is to create an environment open to everyone yet also centered on developing a devoted group of students to join with faculty in prayer for our school community.

Jack Stein, a Westminster junior who has been involved from the group’s inception, shares his opinion that “it’s good to take time to pray and glorify God with what we’re given.” He especially appreciates the openness of the group in its variety of prayer topics as well as its inclusivity. Stein remarks that he particularly enjoys the fellowship time at the start of the prayer meetings and that he is excited to see more students join in.

Sophomore Rebecca Thompson is also impressed by the diversity of prayer topics while maintaining a focus on the school community. She particularly likes how the meetings are usually opened up with a short Scripture reading. Thompson remarks that “it’s important to make sure throughout the week to keep the right focus.” She envisions the group as a place where prayer requests can be safely shared and where students can come together to pray for each other.

Altogether, there is something quite special about a Christian school that takes its faith seriously. Twentieth century evangelist T. M. Anderson writes that “the measure of our faith and the fervency of our prayers Praying_Hands_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_1600determine the effectiveness of our labors for Christ.” The Lord invites us to embrace faith and prayer hand-in-hand as catalysts for spiritual transformation. Simple lunchtime prayer gatherings are just one way of doing this, but we can never underestimate what God will do. We are right to thank Him for his faithfulness in providing a new campus, but now we must call on Him to continue renewing our hearts.

Student-led prayer meetings are being regularly held on Mondays during lunch in the C-Wing. Meetings are typically held in Mr. Burgess’s classroom, but the specific location may vary and will be announced each week. All Upper School students interested, middle-schoolers and high- schoolers alike, are invited to attend. Students are free to come early for fellowship time; prayer officially starts at 12:30 and lasts through the end of lunch. Please feel free to contact senior Josh Moore at joshua19moore@gmail.com or junior Ethan Shaw at eshaw96@gmail.com with any questions.

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“Jack and Jill: A Fairytale Revisited”

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by Patrick McGucken, Class of 2015

Inscribed here is the tale of the heroes of Reinveydan. Known well across the kingdom from the capital of Fraillia to the distant coastal cities of Isla. As popular as the epic is, many men and women do not know of its origins. It all began with four downtrodden kingsmen being chased out of Fraillia. After not preventing a cataclysmic fall, they were chased out by a ferocious mob. The four brothers rode for many days, looking for a safe place to rest. The men were exhausted, delirious, and sick. Hope evaded them much like the three pigs that eluded the hungry wolf. In time, they came across the ruins of a small town. The town was destroyed, and all the buildings were burned to the ground. The smell of sulfur wafted throughout the ruins, filling the men’s lungs with ashes. The men coughed and wheezed as they tried to regain their sight. Desperately, they searched for food and water; the four men came across a lone river. Beside the river, gleamed a beautiful golden statue. This statue towered over the village and stood alone amongst the remnants of the village. On the base of the statue, there was a plaque that shared the legend of Reinveydan. The four kingsmen wrote this legend into an epic and began singing it across the kingdom. Their fame grew exponentially and they were eventually welcomed back to their home city. Here lies the only remaining manuscript of the legend passed down throughout the generations of the four brothers’ family.

In memory of the four kings men, this story offers both a glance at salvation and the sacrifice it requires.

The drums roll, the curtains rise,
Enter the land where the rain has died.
The kingdom of Fraillia is trapped in a drought,
Cursed by a god, they cannot get out.

In the town of Reinveydan, two heroes arise,
Ready to save or meet their demise.
The boy was strong and very fit,
And immense fame, he wanted to get.

The twin sister was beautiful and bright,
But do not be fooled because she could fight.
Riches and power were their dream,
Together they formed a formidable team.

They packed up their gear and left with a hurry,
Into the wrath of the Sun God’s Fury.
A towering mountain, where beasts do meet,
Lay the only river that was yet to deplete.

In a lonely cave, the river flowed,
Guarded by a fierce monster, that devours its foes.
The two heroes quickly the mountain did scale,
Carrying only a magic pail.

A pack of wolves was on their heels,
Tragically, one was about to become a meal.
Around the path, all they could hear,
Were the piercing howls that filled them with fear.

The brother shook, the sister screamed,
The sun set down beneath the ravine.
The darkness filled the empty sky,
The siblings needed a place to hide.

The wolves got faster, ready to bite,
The little sister was filled with fright.
A ledge awaited sitting up high,
The duo knew they had to jump through the sky.

The twins awaited  to test their fate,
Little did they know that for, the brother, it was too late.
The brother jumped onto soft ground,
He slipped and fell and broke his crown.

His sister was dazed wondering how this could be,
But remembered what her brother said, “continue for me.”
The journey was vigorous, but her mind was made,
She entered the cave where the creature stayed.

Hiding in the dark, she waited for her chance,
She ran the beast through with a fallen warrior’s lance.
She filled the pail with the magic water,
And headed down the mountain with a trodder.

She came across her brother’s grave to pay respect,
While she cried, the sun god plotted what was next.
The sun quickly rose, brighter than ever,
Blinding the sister, which was very clever.

The magic pail slipped from her hand,
And unfortunately emptied itself upon dry land.
The sister with nowhere left to turn, jumped from the ledge,
Joining her brother now that she had fulfilled her pledge.

Little did she know where the water landed,
Grew a river, that quickly expanded.
It spread out its banks and rushed to our land
And freely refreshes each woman and man.

So here lies a statue that may cause a tear
But we honor our heroes who walked without fear
We honor the twins who went up the hill,
Our town’s greatest patrons, the great Jack and Jill.

“A Long Hard Road”

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by Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

“Jeeerrreeemmmiiaaahhhh!!!” The little girl called, giggling from her hiding place inside the large metal slide. She wore a lacey green dress, slightly smudged with dirt, a yellow bow pinned in her light brown hair as she waited to be found. In the distance the rhythmic clang of the church bell echoed through the rural town of New Faith, beckoning the city towards the white steeple. The boy seemed not to hear it or at least pretended not to; instead he continued his search around the deserted playground as the warm summer sun beaded sweat against his brow. The sweet sound of soft laughter soon led him to the red slide, the excitement evident on his youthful face as he slid down to where his friend crouched.

“Found you! Now come on, we are going to be late for the service,” he stated his tone was calm, but she could detect the small trace of anxiety rising in his voice as he pictured the red face and angry shouts of his father.

“No,” she replied hesitantly, like the workings of her nine-year-old mind were at war with themselves. “Let’s just stay here for a while, Jeremiah… I don’t want to go to church today.”

“What do you mean ‘no ?’ Mrs. Aniston will throw a fit if you don’t show up for Sunday school again!”

She stared at him, her hazel eyes picking past his defenses, searching for some hidden clue or sign. Slowly her lips began to form a question, one that would take him by surprise and haunt him for the remainder of his days. Samantha had a way of doing that, making him wonder sometimes if she was older than she said she was; he guessed in some ways they both were.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?” She did not blink but Jeremiah could feel the hope in her voice. In that moment it felt as if their roles had been swapped, that she was older and he younger, caught for once in a loss of words.

“Samantha…” he started, having no idea where he might end. He had never thought about her romantically. Of course she had always been a friend to him, a rare one at that; he never had many friends. Even the adults looked down on him with disdain, calling him “The murderer’s brat” when they thought he wasn’t listening. But Samantha had always been like a sister to him, and she was so young, and so very naive. The dozen answers which had formed at the top of his mind all fell away as he looked again at her innocent face.

“Yes, Samantha, I do love you,” he whispered, and as the words rolled off his lips he knew they were true. So they had remained throughout the rest of his life.

Slowly the scene faded before his aging eyes. The shiny red slide darkened, and the paint transformed into dull brown rust. The rest of the playground followed suit. The wood began to decay and in some places disappear completely while the hot summer sun gave way to a dreary November sky. Jeremiah stood there with one hand clutching the inside of his jacket, the other resting on an old wooden cane. It had been nearly eighty years since he had spoken those words. Eighty long years, filled with regret and sorrow. He had always been a coward no matter what he may have once believed, and he had proven it when he ran away at seventeen. He had known they would be coming for him, coming to rip him from his home and lock him away in some prison cell to await the hangman’s noose. And so he fled, leaving Samantha and all he knew behind in his rush to escape. To his credit, after two years of running he had returned for her, waiting until the safety of night before climbing up and knocking on her window.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?” she had asked, brown hair flickering in the cool breeze. Her face was tinted red as if she had been crying; but no matter how many times he had told her, told her that he loved her and that she was the shining light in his dark world, she had refused to leave with him. “They will understand. You don’t have to run anymore, Jeremiah. It’s been two years.” But he knew they wouldn’t understand. Instead they would leave him as lifeless as the man he had killed. Samantha has always been so innocent, how could she ever understand what he’d done? Her words only angered him, and he left in a fit of emotion. He swore as he cried himself to sleep that night that he would never love again, that love was for the weak and would only lead to sorrow.

Regardless of this, he had always meant to return, to run back to her and fall to her feet; but then the war began. That god-awful war which brought in boys with promises of glory and returned them home in body bags. He had not set foot in the town of New Faith since that night; and it was here now that he stood, in front of the crumbling ruin of the old school playground.

“Mr. Reed?” the voice of a young man came from behind him, forcing him out of the dark cloud of nostalgia and back onto the solid ground of reality.

“Yes, that’s me,” Jeremiah answered, turning to face the man “Do I know you?” He was young, in his late twenties if Jeremiah had to guess. He was dressed in khaki slacks, a white oxford with a blue tie, and a long black trench coat that was splattered with little drops of water, as if it had rained on his walk here. In one hand he held a brown leather briefcase that looked like it may have been as old as he was.

“I’m Samantha Grange’s grandson, Anthony Grange; I received your letter in the…”

“I’m sorry boy; I’m afraid I don’t know a Samantha Grange,” Jeremiah interrupted him, his face turning to stone as he slowly put in place the pieces of the puzzle.

“Sorry, you would have known her by her maiden name, Ashton. Samantha Ashton.”

So she had gotten married then. He should have assumed as much. It wasn’t like she had been expected to wait for him. Still the news came as something of a shock, like when one dives into a pool, only to find out the water is cold.

“I see. Could you take me to your grandmother then, son? I’m an old friend, and I’d like to see her one last time.” The area was quiet and for the most part peaceful besides the distant murmur of car engines from the town center. It was only the two of them standing there, but still Jeremiah’s question seemed to hang in the air for eternity before being answered.

Anthony was at a loss of words, finally with something of a sigh he responded. “Sir, my grandmother died two months ago.”

The sentence hit him like a bullet. Samantha was dead. His Samantha was dead.

“It was cancer that killed her in the end. I received your letter last week. I’m living out of her old house now you see, and so I have come to meet you, and give you this,” he finished, lifting up the old briefcase.

The warmth left Jeremiah’s shaking hand as he reached out to take the case from Anthony.

“She talked about you a lot, especially after my grandfather died. She told me she had never forgotten you and always meant to see you again one day. These are the things she left for

you if you should ever come back.” With those words he turned to leave, his black trench coat fluttering in the wind.

“Where is she buried?” Jeremiah called out after him, his face beginning to contort as he desperately tried to hold back the tears.

“In the old church’s graveyard,” Anthony replied, seeming anxious to depart. “Is it true what they say? That you killed a man?” he asked, and after a few moments of uncomfortable silence started back down the gravel road.

Jeremiah stood there and watched him for a solid minute, his weary mind again beginning to fog with bleak clouds of old memories. Almost angrily he put them aside and looked at the briefcase he held before him. On the front, scrawled into the battered leather a single word could be made out, and in his mind he heard her childhood voice calling out to him.

“Jeeerrreeemmmiiaaahhhh.”

Solemnly his anger instantly fell away, and with a tear in his eye he began to hobble down the road towards the old white church. In the distance the rhythmic clang of the church bell echoed through the bustling city of New Faith, beckoning all who could hear towards the white steeple. After some time the crumbling brick and rotting beams of the building came into view.

The church in his childhood had been the gem of the town, a beautiful building with a crisp green lawn and glittering stain glass windows. In recent times, however, it seemed to have fallen to the wayside, and stood now in a state of forgotten disrepair. To its right a vast graveyard stretched down a sloping hill, shaded from the dull sun by the yellow leaves of a giant oak. A handful of cars were parked outside the church, some of them so ancient they could be

considered collectors’ items. Seeing them here he vaguely recalled it was Sunday. The fools of the world would be attending their churches, where they would be promised happiness and prosperity. They were all clueless; life was nothing more than a meaningless pit of torment. If there was a God, then he was cruel and merciless. Jeremiah’s faith had long since died with his father, and now it seemed that vengeance was being wrought upon him for it. Samantha was dead. His Samantha was dead.

Desperately he wandered the graves, searching for the final resting place of the only person he had ever truly loved. His heart ached as nearly every grave he stumbled upon bore the name of someone he once knew. Through the cracked church windows the pastor’s fiery sermon could be heard across the valley.

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil which he toils under the sun?”

Jeremiah grimaced as he heard the words; he found irony in the fact that he and the preacher seemed to agree. Life was worthless. Presently his eyes landed upon a patch of fresh dirt under the broad sweeping branches of the old oak tree. In front of the dirt a simple white tombstone rested, a stark contrast to the elaborate graves which surrounded it. Almost timidly Jeremiah approached the grave, fearing what he might see.

Samantha Ashton Grange Born June 5, 1919

Died September 17, 2012
May she always live in our Hearts

Jeremiah fell to his knees as his body began to shake uncontrollably. His old limbs seemed to fail him, forcing him down into the soft dirt. Clumsily he wrestled with the brass clasp on the old leather briefcase, the memory of Samantha’s soft voice coursing through his head.

“Jeeerrreeemmmiiaaahhhh…”

His breathing had increased and he was panting by the time the latch finally opened, revealing the long awaited contents of the case. The last things that Samantha had intended him to see before she had died, one final message from beyond the grave. Inside, a crinkled yellow piece of paper sat atop a small book. Two items. That was all. He reached down and slowly withdrew them both. The book was a Bible and an old one at that, the simple design of a cross etched onto the front cover. Carefully, he opened it to the front page, only to find it dedicated to Samantha Ashton on the occasion of her baptism. Had she really bought into this stuff? He quietly set it to the side and reached down for the note. A single sentence was written, inscribed in her elegant handwriting the he still recognized to this day.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?”

Kneeling under the shade of the great oak tree tears began to fall uncontrollably from his eyes. “Yes…” he whispered, struggling to form the word. “Yes, Samantha, yes I do love you!” As he sat there weeping, all the failures and struggles of his life invaded his heart and mind. Why had all this happened to him? Did God hate him? Jeremiah could not blame him if he did. He was a failure, a coward… a murderer. Life had long since been his torture chamber.

Weary and broken he stared yet again at the yellow sheet of paper, Samantha’s last question would be forever unanswered and he despised himself because of it. He flipped it over in his hand, unable to stare at the beautiful words any longer, only to find yet another sentence written on the back. His heart skipped a beat as he continued to read.

“Then love God for he is the one who made me, and though you may not believe it, he loves you in return.”

Trembling Jeremiah rose to his feet, his weight supported by the old wooden cane. His weary eyes wandered to the white cross atop the ancient steeple. “You never really give up do you?” He thought, groaning as he reached down and lifted Samantha’s Bible from where it sat in the dirt. Through the broken windows of the church you could still hear the powerful voice of the preacher echoing across the valley.

“Let us conclude today’s message with John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Amen…”

Silently, his face contorted with emotion Jeremiah hobbled up towards the white church building, Samantha’s final words on his mind.

“Earth’s Lament” by Ethan Shaw

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Earth’s Lament
By Ethan Shaw, Class of 2015Groanings manifold and desperate
Flowed from earth’s deep womb, to hallow Seed of man yet Heaven’s flower—
He to purge our souls most fallow!

To the tension of the heartstrings
Plucked by the angels, solemn rite!
Her rocks were split, entreaty made,
Lest darkness quench the perfect Light.

She had seen Him first as sculptor;
He fashioned life out of the clay,
Celestial craft or earthly trade—
Created marvels in each way.

Mortal sepulchers were opened;
Each drop from Heaven like a tear—
She mourned those selfsame potter’s hands
Now torn by tools He’d known so dear.

Tombs had opened up that evening;
Creation’s grief had manifest.
Just so pierced hands are glorified,
Which overcame the Tempter’s best!

“Resurrectus sum. Vivatis!”
An anthem of the heart and soul:
That earth would sacrifice desire
And thus that we would be made whole!

 

The Place Where I Belong by Olivia Godfrey

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Olivia Godfrey
Mr. Kross
American Literature 9B December 3, 2012

The Place Where I Belong

 

Hi, my name is Mary Emily Black and I was born in 1953 and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am twenty-three years old and am currently living in Carson City, Nevada. In the fourth grade, everyone in my class was given a pen pal from somewhere in the United States. My pen pal’s name was Lucy and she lived in Sacramento, California. I wrote Lucy at least once a week, telling her all about school and my family. Lucy was an only child too, but we both wanted a sibling terribly. Through our letters, Lucy and I became such close friends. All throughout elementary and middle school, we wrote to each other every week. During my first year of high school, I went to the mail box to receive my letter from Lucy. I quickly opened it, but there was no letter inside. Instead, there was a ticket that fell out of the envelope onto the driveway. I hurriedly picked the ticket up to see what it was for. Attached to the train ticket was a note which said,

This is for you to come and visit me soon! Cannot wait to see you in person!

Love, Lucy

I was so surprised and filled with excitement as I read her little note and held the ticket in my trembling hands. Throughout the rest of that day, I could not stop smiling as my heart raced with eagerness.

About a week before I was going to leave to visit Lucy, my mom became sick with Scarlet Fever. This was devastating not only because scarlet fever can be deadly, but because my mom was, at the time, six months pregnant. I had always longed for a sister. Although my mom was very sick, I wanted so badly to go meet Lucy for the first time.

“Go on,” my mom would say, “I’m getting better. Don’t you worry about me.” But I could tell in her eyes that she was not. However, I convinced myself that she would get better and that I could not waste a ticket that was given as a gift. So, as planned, I left to go to Sacramento, California.

Before I knew it, I was climbing aboard the train to California. I had never ridden on a train before. The smell of the train station was like that of a gathering of people who had not showered for days. As I raised my handkerchief to my nose, I took one step at a time to find my place on the inside of the train. On the inside it smelled like Christmas morning. The fresh scent of pine wood was in the air. Everyone on the train looked so kind and friendly. I must have stood in the door way for at least ten minutes, my eyes growing bigger by the second as I took in the atmosphere around me.

I moved from the doorway down the aisle of the first car. Booths and chairs were along the isle to each side. The chairs were quickly filling up with the people eager to find a place to sit. I looked around for an open chair or booth. Way in the back, at the very end of the aisle, was a booth with two seats on either side. I immediately bolted down the aisle in order to claim that seat because there was no way I would stand during that whole train ride. As I sat down, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Now all that was left was to enjoy the ride.

I waited for the engine to begin huffing and puffing, for the sound of the people at the station to yell at their loved ones “good-bye!” This was all a new adventure for me, and I eagerly waited for it to begin.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” I looked up to see an elderly woman, probably in her early sixties, standing in front of me. She smelled like she was wearing a very expensive perfume and she wore a bright red leather coat.

“No, it’s not,” I responded.

“Well then I guess it has my name on it,” she replied giving me a sweet old- lady smile. I smiled back and then quickly jerked my head to stare out of the window because I was not sure it would be polite to observe this elderly lady anymore.

After about half an hour or so, I turned from the foggy glass to see the old lady knitting something that looked to be a scarf. She had a bright purple yarn and two silver knitting needles.

She saw that I was looking at her work and said, “Oh, this is for my granddaughter. She is sick with scarlet fever, so I figured it would be nice to make her a gift. I can’t even imagine her lying in bed all day so miserably. She was always so full of life and energy.” As the old lady continued to tell me all about her granddaughter and all her grandkids, I began to think about what she had said about her granddaughter having so much energy. My mother used to be that way before she became sick. Always so happy and content. But now, every time I thought of her, I saw her just lying there, as though all the energy had been sucked out of her. It was like she was not even the same woman anymore.

“I haven’t properly introduced myself. My name is Miss Anna Watkins, but you may call me Anna. And you are?”

“My name is Mary Emily Black.”
“Well it’s very nice to meet you Mary Emily. Where are you off to?” “California. I am going to visit a friend.”

“California! Wow that’s a long ways away for such a young girl to go by herself. I’m headed to Carson City, Nevada myself. How old are you sweetie?”

“I turn fifteen in December. My friend who I am going to visit actually bought this ticket for me. I was almost not able to go, though, because my mom became sick with scarlet fever.”

“Well I am happy to know she is better now. Family is the most important thing in life. It is always important to be there for your family, even in the toughest times, so that they may support you when you need it.”

I thought about what she had said and began to feel my stomach turning inside me. “Miss Anna? My mother is not better. She is still sick and I left her.”

“You poor thing! Don’t cry. Everything is alright. Everything is–” She started to cough in between words until finally, her coughing ceased.

“Miss Anna? Miss Anna, can you hear me? Somebody, anybody, help!” Those where the last few words I screamed before I was surrounded by darkness.

When I awoke I found myself still on a train, but a different one. I slowly sat up and looked around. I do not remember if I fainted or blacked out, but all I do remember is waking up and not recognizing anyone. What had happened to Miss Anna? She was nowhere in sight. I prayed that she had made it safely to her granddaughter and that whatever had happened to her was not too severe.

“Ma’am, excuse me? Where is this train headed?” “Minnesota,” she replied with a twinkle in her eye.

I was so thrilled to be on my way home. I didn’t care how, but I was on my way to where I was needed the most and where I belonged.