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  Thursday July 31st, 2014    

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Breathing lessons (05/27/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"We live beneath a father's sky that changes wonder to uncertainty. No wind blows warm that does not echo of a colder day. No sunlight lives that does not have the hint of shadow." -Kent Nerburn, from "A Haunting Reverence"

It was March 20th, the day before the calendar officially announced spring 2007. Pat and I had arrived home from a funeral service in Eau Claire. A dear friend from our camping resort, on Lake Ojaski, near Chetek, Wis., passed away from a fast moving cancer. Her time had come.

It hadn't crossed our minds, one gorgeous Sunday last September, that it would be the last time we'd spend with Vonnie. A fun-loving couple, Butch and Vonnie, so much a part of our northern retreat, entered our lives seven years ago this month. We've shared our joys and sorrows, campfires and fish tales.

As we pulled into our driveway on that glum day, the sun peeked through blank skies. The need to stretch my wintered legs struck me. During my trek down and around the cul-de-sac, a brazen wind suddenly crossed my path. The grandfather pines at street's end whipped their branches, and yard trees, bare as skeletons, trembled with a sacred power.

I thought...how bluntly grief interrupts a life. New days fade in and out, faceless and empty. With blind faith we look to spring's awakening, methodically preparing earth for gardening and flower beds, exchanging storm windows with screens, and cleansing seasonal residue from patio furniture.

Beginnings and endings fill our allotted times with the pain as well as the reward of fate. Another couple, also dear friends, had e-mailed us the same day as the funeral to share their ecstatic joy over the recent birth of a granddaughter.

In the same gust of wind winter ends and spring begins. In one breath friends embrace in sympathy - in the next, congratulations warm our hearts.

"Come, come, my son. Listen closely. Caress the trees. This is our baptism, yours and mine. The lullaby of waters. Above this land stars pivot on a point of love." - Kent Nerburn

We go through stages of faith in our lifetimes. They can be determined by circumstance or chance. Other times a bolt of understanding hits us. In the search for truth one may have an abrupt realization or a liberating awakening. Purpose is enhanced.

We humans are emotional wrecks! Are we ever satisfied or content? It seems life is either taking our breath away in bliss, knocking the wind out of us with discouragement, or leaving us breathless with anticipation!

If only human life could be as unexacting and effortless, not to mention free of harsh emotions, as the robins of early spring, that field of Holsteins, whales in their saltwater kingdom, or as ants and spiders living out inbred inclinations. Creatures of the earth and sea freely inhale and exhale with no worries of tomorrow or regrets from yesterday.

"I knew you before you were in your mother's womb" is a Biblical statement. Could it be with God that we enter and exit this world in one solitary breath, the in-betweens no more than a blink of an eye? Destiny foreordained?

Just as Memorial Day means time off from daily routine for relaxation, to share outdoor fun and to make treasured memories with family and friends, it's also an opportunity to breathe new life into our deep-set recollections of loved ones lost, to let go of our sorrow at their departures and to extol their lives.

If tomorrow never comes...better not take any chances. Be present to others, to comfort and to rejoice with them. Make yourself necessary to someone.

Live and breathe!

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 

 

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