Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I couldn't sleep last night. Odd thing, really. The reason for my insomnia was even more strange. I was thinking about a novel that I'm reading as part of my book club. It's called Though Waters Roar, by Lynn Austin. It's not uncommon for books to find their way into my bed; but what is unusual is for a book to remain locked in my mind hours later.

Though fictitious, the characters and situations seem so incredibly real to me. Without going into a great amount of detail, the author describes a scene where a little girl and her mother are hiding two runaway slave women. "Bounty hunters" are encircling the tiny town in search of the runaways and with the hopes of securing a handsome reward in exchange for their capture. This prompts the mother to do a very bold thing.

After placing a wooden box into the family's horse-drawn wagon and gently instructing the two slaves to hide inside it, the woman and her daughter carefully fill the wagon with firewood, covering the box. One log at a time, they determined to make it look as though their mission is to deliver firewood - as well as the two refugees - to an awaiting family, who live about sixteen miles away.

The four souls traveled in broad daylight, and the heat of the day became unbearable throughout the bumpy ride. At one intense point in the story, two bounty hunters on horseback were seen looming ominously in the distance. Eventually, the men approached the wagon, unaware of its hidden "contents."

Demonstrating unimaginable fortitude and faith, the woman stopped her wagon. She calmly asked the two men if they were "lost," all the while appearing unruffled and unshaken. And all the while she silently prayed and held on to the only thing she could truly grasp: trust.

Oh, and there's one more thing that I forgot to mention: The men brought trained dogs along with them to sniff out any escaped slave. Dogs! Imagine the terror that the women - the runaways as well as their protectors - experienced during the unrelenting barking. The two men surveyed the wagon, their minds focused on one thing: receiving a reward in exchange for human lives!

Oblivious to the ruse, the men eventually went on their way. At this point in my reading, my heart finally slowed down to its normal resting rate once again. But the reason I had been unable to sleep later is because I was thinking about the poor women hiding inside that box.

Even though the actual story was fictitious, we all know that situations such as this one were not unheard of. But what I couldn't get out of my mind as I tossed and turned was what the poor slaves must have been thinking and feeling as they hid inside a coffin-like box and waited patiently for the wagon to move on. How many prayers had they undoubtedly prayed, pleading to God for their release and safety? Weren't they feeling even a little bit claustrophobic, figuratively and literally speaking, while locked inside that box? How did they endure all of the emotional stress? Had they ever really known what blessed freedom could possibly feel like?

The bravery and courage that the women displayed humbles me, and it makes me stop short. These days, how many of us would truly risk life and limb to save another human being?

Courage...Hope... Submission... Determination... Trust...
The four women exemplified all of those traits.

We could learn a lot from our past and from those who have gone before us. Freedom is something we should never, ever take for granted.


PFunky said...

Your book sounds alot more uplifting and amazing than my book I am reading. Eat, Pray, Love...a wonderful book where the author does such an amazing description of pizza from Napoli that I had dreams about it that night. Still searching for that pizza!

But this book sounds wonderful. I will try to check it out!

Debby said...

I've begun a comment here, but got pulled away from it each time. Let me try once more. For me, cancer was, for a time, the one pulling the wagon. I had no choice but to ride on, putting my faith in something larger than that hijacker of my life. Now that it is done, there has been an astounding transformation. My friend and I were chatting in the back seat on the way home from Mercy Me. She said, "I really think that you cannot feel guilty about your mom" and suddenly, I realized it. I no longer did. My mom is angry and faultfinding, and for most of my life, I felt as if I had to convince her that I was good. During the cancer, after she told me that (because I was only having chemo every other week) 'my cancer was not serious' and later in a letter 'that I did not deserve her support', I just backed away. Guiltfree. I began to look at my life, and I realized that a great many things that I felt terribly guilty about, somehow, I've begun to see them differently. The guilt is gone. I am free. Isn't it odd that cancer would be my eye opener?