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Leaving Normal
By Loren Rosser

There was once a city, by the name of Normal, that stood in the Land of Joy. There was a high wall around Normal that the civilians called Comfort, because of the security that it seemed to give. The civilians of Normal rarely ventured out beyond the Wall of Comfort. Some, however, would climb the wall and look over into the Land of Joy. In doing so, they would say to one another, "My, my, my, isn't that a beautiful land? Wouldn't it be wonderful to live out there?"

But then one would usually speak up and say, "Maybe not, because there is no Wall of Comfort to make us secure." Then they would nod in agreement and climb back down to the monotonous, dismal streets of Normal.

The people would rise in the morning, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and then go to bed. Then they would rise the next morning and repeat the same routine. This went on five days a week. Saturday, the people of Normal would rise, mow their lawns, clean their houses, and maybe take up a recreational activity like tennis, bowling, golf, or simply go to the theater and watch a movie. Sundays the people would rise up and go to church where they would all sit in a building and listen to a man speak about the Land of Joy. And they would all say to each other, "Yes, one day we'll go there." Then they would go home and begin another repetitive week in Normal City.

One Sunday a new person came to Normal Church, and her name was Faith. She heard the speaker talking about the Land of Joy for the first time. The people responded with their Normal, "Someday we'll go there."

Well, Faith was so excited to hear that someday they were going to this Land of Joy beyond the Wall of Comfort that she jumped out of her seat and cried out with great excitement, "When?!"

Suddenly the people looked confused. They mumbled to each other, "What did she say?"

The speaker looked at Faith with her eyes full of curiosity and asked in the voice of a great orator, "What was your question young lady?"

Faith burst out once again, "When?"

The speaker looked just as confused as everyone else. He then cleared his throat and asked Faith, "When what?"

"When are we going to the Land of Joy?" she asked letting her excitement bubble over.

The speaker stammered for words. The congregation sat puzzled. The speaker regained his stature and stated in a regal tone, "When it's time."

All the congregation looked at each other and nodded in agreement stating to each other, "Yes, when it's time."

Faith piped up once again, "When is it time?"

Once again bewilderment swept over the congregation. The speaker was a little quicker to respond this time. He looked up to the ceiling and in a voice of mystery said, "On that special day."

All the congregation nodded in agreement and said in a voice of mystery and awe, "On that special day."

Faith was now the one looking puzzled. She asked in a confused voice, "When's the special day?"

The speaker was now becoming a little agitated. He adjusted his neck tie and spoke flatly, "It's when it gets here."

Faith looked at the speaker ever so kindly and said, "Today's special. Why don't we go to the Land of Joy today?"

A low questioning murmur arose amongst the congregation. The speaker swallowed hard then asked, trying to conceal his annoyance with the young lady, "Young lady, what is your name?"

"My name is Faith." She responded with glee.

"Well Faith, you obviously don't understand. To live in the Land of Joy we would have to live beyond the Wall of Comfort."

Faith's countenance fell. "But I don't understand. If the Land of Joy is so wonderful why are you so afraid to go beyond the Wall of Comfort?"

The congregation began to shuffle around. Some looked at their watches, others stretched, some ladies picked up their purses. Then the speaker's face broke into a smile, "Oh look at the time. It's time to end this meeting."

"But wait!" Faith called out above the shuffling, "You haven't answered my question."

One woman in the congregation leaned over and whispered to her husband, "Things were moving along fine until Faith showed up."

He nodded and whispered back, "I wonder if she's any relation to that guy Zeal who was here a few years back. You remember how he shook things up." His wife gave a nod of agreement.

One man, a member of the city council, arose and turned to the young lady. "My dear Faith, in answer to your question, we like it behind the Wall of comfort. It keeps our city organized. It gives us a strong sense of consistency." The people once again nodded in agreement with their peer.

"But sir," Faith spoke back, "from what I've heard here about the Land of Joy is that it's a land of freedom, peace, and full of wonderful beauty. Why would you want consistency instead of that?"

One of the church board members turned and addressed the young lady. "I understand you excitement, but we must be realistic. Yes the Land of Joy is a wonderful place where we would all like to be, and someday we will go there. But you see, going now would not be practical. The Land of joy is a very broad place. With no Wall of Comfort there are so few restraints. Who knows what people might do?"

Faith responded to the board member rationally, "They might become free."

One woman shot back at Faith in a bitter tone, "Freedom makes you do strange things, like dance and shout and other humiliating things. No thank you Faith, I'm happy right here behind the Wall of Comfort."

"I'm sorry ma'am, I don't mean to be rude, but I must ask you, are you really happy behind the Wall of Comfort, as you say? I mean, it's crowded here and everything is gray. Nobody can be who they really are, but instead, everybody is trying to be like everybody else. The pollution here in Normal is so vile that the smog blocks out the sunlight. And with the bread and water shortage nobody's hunger or thirst is ever satisfied. I just don't see why you all insist on staying here."

The people were squirming now more than ever; scratching the back of their necks, wringing their hands, tying their shoes, whatever they could do to pretend they didn't hear Faith.

Faith turned to the people and said, "Well, I don't care what you say, I'm going to the land of Joy. If you wish to come with me you can."

"Now!?!" a woman shouted in shock.

"This moment!?!" a man spoke out.

"Today!?!" another man thundered.

Faith said, "Why not? The Land of Joy is just sitting there beyond the Wall of Comfort waiting to be occupied. Today's better than tomorrow, because your tomorrow seems to always be coming but never gets here. And we can't go back to yesterday, because if we could it would have been better to have gone then. So, I have decided that I, Faith, must go now."

Faith made her way from her seat to the center aisle and walked to the back of the church then turned to the congregation, whose eyes had been following her all along, and said with great conviction, "Good bye everybody. Now I'm going to walk down the streets of Normal to the Wall of Comfort and climb over the wall and enter the Land of Joy, and there I shall abide." She took three steps then turned back to the people, whose eyes were now bigger than ever, "Oh, by the way, if anybody comes looking for Faith, tell them that I live beyond the Wall of Comfort." Then with a playful wave she sang out, "So long." Then she walked out the back of the building.
For the first time since Faith showed up the people sat motionless in silence. Then one man asked sheepishly,

"You think she'll actually do it?"

Then an old man responded gruffly, "Certainly not!"

A young woman responded in agreement, "Yeah, I'm sure she'll get to the Wall of Comfort and realize how ridicules it is to climb over and decide to stay in Normal."

"Certainly she will." Another woman agreed. "She'll never do it. This girl, Faith, I'm sure she's all talk."

An adventurous lad jumped to his feet and said exuberantly, "I know! Let's go look out the back door and see if she actually does it.!"

"You mean watch her confirm our sound reasoning by not doing it." A sophisticated looking man uttered patting the lad's back.

"Whatever." The lad said, "But let's go see."

The speaker turned to the people and said, "I don't see any reason why not." He stepped out from behind the pulpit and walked down the aisle to the back door. The people scuffled out of the pews and streamed into the aisle following him. The speaker swung the door open and looked down the dingy street that laid directly before him. His eyes scanned the street.

Then the lad's voice was heard, "There she is!" He pointed to the end of the street. The people crammed into the doorway to see.

"I don't believe it!" one man said in amazement, "She's reached the Wall of Comfort already."

"This is unbelievable!" an elderly woman cried, "Now Faith is trying to climb the wall!"

"Inconceivable!" a man voiced coldly a moment later, "Now Faith is actually doing it. She's climbing the wall!"

Yet another moment passed as they all watched packed in the doorway when another masculine voice was heard, "This is most doubtful, but now Faith is half way up the wall."

"Where did she learn to climb like that?" a middle-aged mother pondered out loud.

Then a church board member cried out in disbelief, "An utter impossibility! Now Faith is climbing over the top of the Wall of Comfort!"

All the people gasped in sheer shock and astonishment. Then Faith disappeared from their sight. The crowd stood cramped in the doorway in silence with their mouths hanging wide open. The speaker said in almost a whisper, "She actually did it."

The people continued to stand in shock. Then finally, some people began to break away from the group and return to the pews to get their things so they could go home. Eventually, the whole group had dispersed from the doorway. As the people scrambled out the door to go home and others were returning to the pews to pick up their belongings, the city council member's voice could be heard above the commotion, "My, oh my. That Faith is a doer."


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