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Scraped Off the Bone

Kristen’s Mount Hermon Writing Contest Entry

Scraped Off The Bone

Courage, huh?

You only see courage in the darkness. On those empty nights when even the stars look angry and cold. Courage rises up when you’ve taken a beating. It walks along shadowed paths, not through sunlit meadows. Do you really want to see courage? There is a cost to it, a terrible pain. Courage is never easy and plump. Courage gets scraped off the bone, after the flesh has worn away.

Yeah, I have seen courage.

In that little girl who kept house at the age of ten. Her Southern belle momma had died and while her daddy was fast with a gun, he didn’t care much for cooking. She was the finest hostess I ever met and always set the table with china. Her specialty: lemon meringue pies and calling children out of the cold with a cup of cocoa and a piece of gooey, bubbling cinnamon toast.

I have seen courage.

In that man in his fifties, standing to follow God. His kids kept a “swear jar” but he didn’t need it anymore. He retired, gave twenty acres of empty land to God, then worked every day for the rest of his life. He poured himself out in service until he died in his chair, at one hundred and four, in the log cabin he built next to the camp he founded.

I have seen courage.

In that young pastor who left safety behind. His church. His home. His paycheck. He moved his family into a single bedroom with the promise that his folks wouldn’t let them starve. Then he started the summer ministry at that tiny scrap of a camp where his parents had planted their hearts so many years before. He died there, working on the off-grid power system that gave light to their home.

I have seen courage.

In the woman who buried two husbands. One died suddenly, in medias res, caught in the daily grind of a dream. One died slowly, melted away, slipped from broad shoulders and strength to bedpans and bones. She was the one who was strong, so very strong. She carried us along until the day that dawn came once again. 

I have seen courage.

In the boy raised with anger. The hush of death, the hiss of words, the silence and chill of hatred. He walked out, broken but not crushed, scarred but still able to feel. And after all that, he dared the impossible. He loved. He loved me. Loved our sons. Loved every single angry hurting child the Lord sent our way. Loved until it stripped him bare and left him sobbing. Then he had the audacity to love some more.

I have seen courage.

In the girl doing CPR on her father, in her red slippers, out in the snow. Chest compressions until her arms trembled. In the woman making homemade soup. Another death. Another dad. Final breaths, again. In the woman afraid to serve, afraid because she saw the cost. But she did and she does and she writes every holy and terrible thing down. Stories and pictures, salvation and pain, inheritance and the hope of a future. She writes and walks forward and dares a broken heart, just one more day, just one more time, until it is broken for good.

Used up. Scraped from the bone. Till nothing is left but courage.

Kristen Joy Wilks


I promise you a crazed animal, a concussion, and a kiss in every single're welcome!

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