Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gentle on My MInd

Once in a while, the curtains of life lift in the breeze allowing whispers of the past to beckon. My soul grows still. I am carried away as if by a rising tide.

The stores have closed. Traffic is all but gone. Streetlights have flickered on. All good children have planted both feet squarely on their own front porches before the last light on the block fired up to full intensity. One by one, adults had drifted out to stoops or porches and into the cooler air.

My little girl eyes drooped as my head sagged toward my chest. Finally, it rested on the nearest shoulder. The porch swing squeaked and groaned. It was in motion but barely so. In syncopated rhythm, a heel struck the porch floor with a muffled thud. The heel assured that the swing moved just enough to lull me into stillness after a long day.

I fought sleep lest I miss something important. I never won. Then, as now, I wanted to hold onto those surroundings. Somehow, the wise old soul in my young body knew roots were sinking deep in those fleeting moments between listening and slumber.

Background music played in the form of a breeze whispering in the tops of pecan trees looming 3 or 4 stories above us. As the breeze pushed cooler night air toward us, the swirling scent of magnolia blooms filtered thru the screens as well. Impatient mosquitoes swarmed and buzzed – frustrated that those same screens stood sentry against them.

The orchestral tempo would build with the rise and fall of whining sawmill blades as logs turned into lumber only a block away. The smell of newly sawn boards mixed with the heady scent of flowers. I was dizzy from the subtle arc of the swing, the richness of the smells, and the spent energy of the day. The muted voices of the adults signaled a weariness of their own.

Those voices would provide both a drumbeat and 4-part harmony as first one chimed in and then another. I strained to hold on as they recounted the events of the day. There had been victories, challenges, disappointments, and rejoicing. As one day ended and another approached, hints of hope and echoes of tension filled the air.

Present gave way to past as one reminded another of events or people long since forgotten. Pedestrians strolled past and called out greetings. Everyone knew everyone. Darkness was no cloak of anonymity. A gait, the tilt of a head, or the slant of the shoulders was all it took to give one away. Any doubt disappeared when the flare of the streetlight illuminated the traveler. More memories unlocked with each passerby. Low key ripples of laughter would rouse me one last time.

My head grew heavier. I held on to wakefulness behind closed lashes. I was old enough to know that my ruse allowed me a window into the world of adults that wakeful children are not always granted. My ruse, however, soon became my reality. Sleep would not be denied.

The present comes hurtling back. I am the adult now. The demands of the day require my attention. As I comply, I steal a glance over my shoulder in hopes of one more glimpse before the past again slips away. 

Psalm 131: 2
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.