Romans 5:3b-5a: "…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.  And hope does not disappoint."


            With a gentle nudge the horizon falls away.  Three figures cloaked in shadows raise up their hands in a distant farewell as the frigid air rushes past on both sides.  Tauntingly rocks and roots protrude from the cliff and stretch their wicked hands out to catch your body; save, each time they pull away at the moment impact should have occurred.  Instinctively the arms beat against the air in a hope to sprout feathers and lift the body in triumphant victory from the abyss below.

            As the descent increases, you reach out a last time for a savior before crashing through the ice encrusted water below.  The sudden impact causes the breath to flee from the mouth and evaporate into the warm atmosphere.  Overhead a crystalline sheet briskly sets itself into place, forbidding forevermore the sweet taste of air.

            You thrash vainly against the evanescent needles impaling the soul.  The legs pump through the water as if running but soon turn sluggish as the frigid waves freeze the muscles.  More than ever now you wave your arms as if flying, attempting to raise yourself from the growing darkness; save, the numbing chill defeats the movements at once.

            Opening the mouth in an attempt to raise a prayer for salvation, you surrender to the archaic nature of the vile Earth.  The undercurrent grasps your waist and hauls you deeper into the slithering darkness of the abyss then tosses the body recklessly along the path of the rampant waves.

            The mind pleads with the body, commands a fight against such a harrowing.  Yet it too fails as a dense, sable cloud expands and engulfs the imagination and breadth of thought.  Forfeited to the ridiculing grin of Fate, your arms and legs grow heavy and fall limp with regret.

            Thus the raging river carries you, its victim and trophy, displaying your cadaverous body as if in a funeral march.  The currents bring jagged rocks and ravenous fish to the flesh, tearing it away bit by bit, penetrating the darkness with crimson.  With every assault the soul screams for action, begs the body to try once more.  Save the being has been surrendered, all hope of salvation lost; despair is the only comfort, and its deathly arms encircle the body.

            Suddenly a sense of vertigo grips the body, bringing the being to the realization of falling once more.  The air rushes past, sending exhilarating wisps of warmth to the flesh; only now the descent is accompanied by the roar of tumbling water.  The eyelids lift as the mouth opens and gasps in the miniscule amount of air.  The arms wave once more, yet still no flight is achieved.  You look down below and cry out in fear at the sight of jagged rocks protruding from the lifting cloud of mist. 

            Death is far more certain now and thus you lift your eyes to the sky in farewell.  As you complete the action, a trembling rock—nigh resembling an outstretched hand—juts out from the rushing water.

            With eyes closed and lips whispering a prayer, you reach out with your last bit of strength.