John left the workshop with a sense of satisfaction deep down inside. Not only had he finished, but he had begun again. Finishing was easy, but once finished he had to put the past behind him and begin again. That wasn't easy. He'd been tempted to let things be. He could hardly claim a resounding success for his first attempt, even if all his appreciative audience muttered flattering comments. But try he must and try he would, and so before washing his clay-smeared hands he moved on to vase number two.

It was Vanessa's first visit and it hadn't gone well. She had hoped to bring some small consolation to the young man who was going to spend the rest of his life in a chair. Instead all she got was a tirade of abuse as the young man vented his anger against the world on herself. Vanessa didn't cry. She never did. Maybe if she could, it would make things easier. Instead she just headed out of the room, striding determinedly towards the exit doors. She couldn't wait to leave this ward behind her. Her days of volunteer visiting would end the day they had started. And they would have too, had it not been for the elderly woman who looked at her, helplessness in her eyes and begged without a single word: "Please come and say hello to me."

Larry and Margaret were determined not to make the same mistake again. And for a long time, the only way they could think of not doings was to quit fostering altogether. It seemed a drastic solution, one they regretted. After all they did have almost 19 years of fostering to their name and more than one happy family had visited them during those 19 years to say thanks for looking after someone who had now become a loving mother, father, husband, wife. And of course, with these as with all their children they had made mistakes, many mistakes. And they had been completely exonerated by the commission set up to look into the affair. Many hours of counselling failed to make them reverse their decision. Indeed, it probably would never have been reversed if the next child hadn't literally arrived on the doorstep. It came from next door. The new neighbour: I'm ill..., a serious operation..., my girl..., couldn't you... wouldn't you... please." It took only one look into those timid little eyes to melt their hearts.

Scott was preparing his very last class. As was always the case these people had become true friends. As a group they were were seeking to discover the very heart of what it meant to be a Christian. There had been some very heated discussions. Some had gone along with what he said, some were interested but hesitant. Others had been quite vehement in their outspokenness. But all had profited from these classes and all were hoping that tonight would not be the end. But for Scott this last session always represented a major challenge. Christianity is not only about love and fellowship, it's also about a just God, and that meant a God who judges. Yet, how to square such judgement with God's love. Scott had used a number of images in the past, each of which explained in part how love and judgement could go hand in hand. But as he read through his Bible that morning, his heart was again filled with wonder at the new beginning God had promised. Indeed, judgement was not the last word. It was a necessary step to herald in what was to come. It was nothing other than the end which would enable a new beginning under God's glorious and loving reign.


what an amazingly versatile collage of beginnings and possible endings that lead to beginnings again... ingenious take on the prompt.

26 April 2008 at 22:05  

You have some great characters and situations here. Can't wait to hear what happens next.

29 April 2008 at 15:20  

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