Flourishing In the Breeze

Breezes have played an important role in my life. So many times, a breeze has blown in just when I needed it. Breezes have been my special guests, coming along unannounced to remind me that life is fresh and joyous.

I recall the breeze I felt whenever I opened the windows in the attic bedroom at home. The room had been closed off and largely forgotten by my family, but I loved to sneak up there, especially in the summertime, and spend an hour in the dusty room, searching through the old closets and chests.

First I would pry open the window. I used to wonder: Why did a breeze always blow in as soon as the window was opened? It was as though the breeze had been patiently waiting just outside, tapping its fingers and checking its watch, hoping that someone would let him in. When I lifted the sash, in would swirl a precious breeze and swing itself around the room, brushing the curtains and shelves and walls with its coolness.

Breezes have always been great friends of schoolchildren, and I was no exception. In Sister Elizabeth Ann's fourth-grade class, I sat by the window - a huge window with old wood frames that only the strongest kids could open.

One hot day I grew brave and strong. I came in quickly from lunch recess and, while the teacher was checking her lesson plan, pried open - with several silent grunts - the giant window. Such a wondrous breeze blew in to bless us! I opened the window only an inch or two, but it was enough to bring coolness and smiles to my classmates. We made our uppercase letters that afternoon with marvelous flourishes.

My dad was a great sailor, and he often took me along as mate, cook, and cabin boy. Sometimes the sailing was splendid, but I also recall many windless, sticky days sailing on Alton Lake above the lock and dam on the Mississippi River near St. Louis.

We spent hours leaning back in the cockpit, searching the distant waters for surface ripples, the first sign that a breeze was on its way. Dad would say "Look, Ham! Look over there!" I would sit up and squint into the haze, but usually all I would see was the smooth brown surface of the sleepy river, taking its sweet time heading south.

But every so often, my father would shout, my eyes would strain, and yes, a glittering set of ripples was dancing our way! I'd wait almost breathlessly for the first coolness of the breeze to strike us. The ripples would rush closer, closer, closer, and then, blissfully, the breeze would be with us. Our shirts would shake out like old flags come to life, and the big sail would whisper, billow, and then sing as the full breeze hit it and got the big boat going again. We reveled in those born-again breezes.

Breezes can also be people. Mr. Euler was a breeze to me, always driving out my loneliness with a smile and a bouncy story. In my college years, Miriam in the registrar's office blew through countless of my days with her enthusiasm and her exultant conviction that every next second had bounteous blessings in store.

Breezes can enter writing, too. When I write in a breezy way, the words blow across the paper effortlessly. They seem to enjoy themselves. My hope is that the freshness comes off the page to the reader's life.

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