Gasoline, exhaust fumes and the aroma of God

The heat this month is intense and makes mowing the lawn an adventure. I have one of those old fashion push-it-yourself gasoline mowers and the back yard at my home rest on a steep slope down to the stream. My mowing path takes me back and forth along the side of this hill, in and out of the shadow of the hickory trees, and white barked beech trees that tower above.

My weekly yard mowing has always been a time of physical exertion and spiritual awareness. It was in my back yard that the pains of early recovery and the exhaustion of body were met by the simple truth that one step at a time in the right direction will result in success, in time. It was here that my struggle with the 'weeds from hell' formed the framework for my belief that recovery and life is about helping and receiving help. And, it is here that I got a lesson about the aroma of god.

After my hour long journey over hill and weed in the back yard, I turn my sweat drenched body to the sun owned space known as my front yard. Here there is little shade and as my timing usually has it, I arrive here to complete the lawn mowing task in the peak of the day's scorching laughter, the blast furnace of hell!

My routine path takes me back and forth along the length of the now level ground. This day seemed especially oppressive. Perhaps the combination of heat and humidity, or the burden of the thoughts that my mind carried, or an unearthly union of both found me wishing for an end to this chore. Yes, it was an unseemly chore.

My thoughts had drifted to the past. Memories of days, now revisited, filled with personal failure, broken promises, misdirected passions, and self centered choices. I could see again the faces of those I had hurt with my addiction, feel the trauma of their pain, the poison of disappointments filled me. I coughed and felt the burning in my eyes of exhaust tainted sweat, the fumes rancid in my lungs. I tried breathing shallow, but my lungs screamed for air, for relief.

It was then I passed near a brief spindle of shadow, the transparent touch of the lone Magnolia standing in the grass. For a second it offered relief, and then gone, as my path carried me on. My mind wandered again...regret, remorse, heat and gas blasted me. Onward I trudged. Will this never end?

A turn of the mower and back. This pass brought me closer to the fat leafed tree, still bearing the last of its browning blossoms. This pass brought me more shade, and an unexpected scent, the gentle, unmistakable drifting aroma of magnolia blossoms. For a few steps it followed me, the coolness of its shade and the delicate scent...a blend of magical fragrance that brought back memories of laughter at the movies, and climbing thick closely entwined limbs in childhood. The heat returned in a flash and with it the roar of my mower and, yet, my thoughts remained on sweet magnolia memories and faint hopes of new blossoms. My next pass took me beneath her, that towering column of serenity. I stopped, felt the shadows shelter me, the air stir around me cooling my skin, let the drifting scent arrive.

I let the safety stop on the mower go. It fell silent and with it died the last of those haunting images of failure. I stood, forever, letting the aroma of god and the shadow of the spirit heal me. Another part of me, sometime later, finished the mowing. I think I’ll wait here awhile.

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