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  Monday October 20th, 2014    

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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Random breathing lessons (11/06/2011)
By Janet Lewis Burns

“Lamaze”… The natural occasion of childbirth climaxes with a final breath shared between womb and fetus, a letting go and a holding on in the same fraction of a second. A bond is immediately forged between two souls, which could possibly prove to be the one and only virtue they will ever have in common.

“Moments of release”… A gardener’s gloved hand wraps its fingers around an embedded thistle, that’s suffocating a clump of poppies gasping for life. Easing the stubborn stem to one side and then the other, the seasoned gardener anticipates the familiar vibration of the taut stem’s release from land’s grasp, and the tearing of its gangly roots breaking away from earth’s embrace. From all the old gardener has learned of bondage and injustice, he weeps as he tosses the limp weed into the compost pile. Even the lowliest among us hold out hope for that moment of release.

“Resuscitation”… Faded, familiar cloth squares of a fraying, hand-sewn, patchwork quilt had been retrieved from storage by some stranger, and spread loosely across a larger bed in his boyhood room. Faint scents of lye soap and camphor clung to the quilt, rousing vivid remembrances of his hard working parents, and this verdant, Winona County farm, all sold now except the century-old house he’s returned to. He could never see beyond its structural deformities and rugged, unsophisticated design.

The intensely meticulous child spent much of his youth bent over the drafting table his uncle, a respected engineer, had given him, sensing the boy’s inborn talent while sharing his knowledge with him. A growing obsession was fueled by reading everything he could about engineering and architectural design. The more he learned, the greater his passion to design and construct skyscrapers of genius magnitude, which led to grandiose notions that he possessed a phenomenal talent.

Leaving home for the big city venture, with the money his folks had set aside for his college education, they parted with high hopes for his success. For a decade he lived a lie, working at menial jobs just to survive, always promising to come home for a visit “as soon as the next big project is wrapped up.”

In this eye-opening moment, here and now, swooning in country air he hadn’t smelled in a very long time, guilt aroused thoughts of all the wasted years and special family moments he had denied himself and his parents, now both gone (in their own ways.) He didn’t want to awaken. He was a child again; Mother’s agile and lingering hands were pulling back the patchwork quilt, cheerfully nudging him from sleep.

The man he should have been knew he had to crawl out from under the past, and open the door to reality. Mother’s kitchen - sterile, the yearning for aromas of hot, bubbling peach cobbler and her mouthwatering dinners had been scrubbed from every surface. Today is her funeral. His deception is a prisoner of his soul.

In the sitting room of the local nursing home, as they met eye-to-eye, Dad didn’t know who he was. He said he had a son once, but he must have forgotten how to get home and lost his way. The boy is still designing skyscrapers in his head. The man came home today, recognizing the “good bones” of that century-old house for the first time.

“He is the wind beneath our wings”… A rude disruption of the euphoric silence of deep sleep creaked and boomed through a frost-laden grove of towering oak. The tumult of a passing wind thrashing their upper branches sounded as if the ancient oak trees were cracking their weatherworn joints. Brisker winds lick open wounds, scars left by battering storms.

Throughout scattered, lamp-lit campers, fishermen are stirring, stretching and groaning, forcing brittle, arthritic bones into fishing gear. With mugs of strong coffee, they head for lake’s “cluck, clucking” against fishing boats, down at the pier, as sunrise yawns into a steaming horizon.

“Exhale”… Another camper’s season spent in God’s country, we leave the serenity we’d borrowed to the dormancy of a winter wilderness moving in.

“Inhale”... Spring conspires with those who return, to escape the greater world. Hidden away in tranquility’s playground, minds and bodies gasp at the splendor of it all.

Janet Burns is a lifelong resident of Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com

 

 

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