Wood and Marble Spaces to Inhale in Deeply

The woman in front of us had coughed and squirmed, her face red as she tried to hold in quiet wheezes. Poor lady. I had wanted to tap her shoulder and assure her it was all right. This March 7th afternoon in Minneapolis basilica grandeur comes to my mind now, two weeks later.

Two weeks since then and the world has dramatically changed.

Two weeks ago, though, on March 7th, hundreds of us had crowded into St. Mary’s Basilica for a free Minnesota Sinfonia concert, featuring world-renowned violinist Ilya Kaler. His renditions of Antonin Dvorak’s Romance stirred our spirits, swirling through the giant marble-carved cathedral to hang majestic in the air.

An hour had passed in quiet peace and beauty. We listened in silent rapture. Attentive to each rise and fall of the instruments, caught up in the cascading crescendos and rivulets of song, we stopped only to applaud or to shift positions on the wooden benches polished by generations before us.

Celebrating my Mom’s birthday that March 7th weekend, my Mom, sister, and I, and a friend of ours relished the symphony concert, then walked in crisp sunset down grand avenues in nearby St. Paul, where tall historical houses rose high against pink and grey sky. Bronze lions stalked an entryway and the moon tangled in a tree.

With newly-fledged precautions to reports of Corona Virus overseas, it still seemed so far off on that March 7th Saturday. We stood in line at Cafe Latte, ordering colorful salads, crusty mini baguettes, and tall luscious cheesecakes. Carefully washing our hands, using napkins to grab bread rolls and utensils seemed safe and ahead of our times, a “wise but early precaution,” we wondered silently.

We had leaned in for the birthday photograph, our friend producing kazoos and pink birthday napkins from her purse. Blowing horn kazoos, we sang happy birthday to my Mom.

Two weeks later and the world has now drastically changed.

In between news headlines and aching prayer for people around the world, I grabbed my keys and kids. Daniel and my niece grabbed their sweatshirts and we headed to the wild.

We needed the beauty of lofty grandeur and the majestic sight of trees.

Driving to our favorite woods, we raced to the fallen tree.

“It’s still here!” Daniel yelled excitedly, jumping into descriptive narrative to his cousin.

The silence and sound of trees sighing sank deeply into my psyche. Finding a warm log and a tree to lean against, I sat and closed my eyes. Oak trees rose regally. The winds ebbed and flowed. Leaves scuttled and whirred quiet percussion. Bird calls rang in cascading crescendos.

Time passed in quiet peace and beauty. In raptured silence I listened, attentive to each rise and fall of the instruments, caught up in the cascading crescendos and rivulets of song, stopping only to smile or shift positions on the wooden tree trunk.

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