It was with a sigh of relief that he entered the warm, dry and quiet shuttle bus and sat down on a seat. The ice-cold, windy and rainy morning had chilled him to the bones.
While waiting for his flight at Stockholm airport, a memory from the morning came back to his mind. His wife had aggressively insisted that he behaved egotistically, leaving her alone for eight days and spending money on something “totally senseless.” When her regular coldness turned into contempt, he fled to the taxi waiting outside.
*
In northern Spain, spring was approaching with mild air and a high, blue sky. The course center was a serene, monastery-like building, in front of which a huge cherry tree stretched its branches, full of little pink buds.
Next morning was warm and sunny. A varied breakfast was served before the first meeting. He sat down at a table by himself with the wholesome, organic food, again wondering what on earth he expected to find at a spiritual retreat.
The dining hall had almost filled up with course students, when two women suddenly recognized each other across the room. With a happy scream they stood up, flew across the floor and joined in a long, warm and tender embrace.

Buds have an instinct that tells them when it’s time to let go of their resistance, open up and transform into flowers. It happens when they have received enough nutrients from a warming sun.

Witnessing the act of love joining with happiness overwhelmed him. He ran outside, where the cherry tree became his refuge. Without noticing that its flowers now were in full bloom, he sat down under it, allowing himself to cry as he hadn’t cried since he was a little child. Years of emotional loneliness, strain and suppressed emotions washed out of him in a flood of tears.
*
It was already past time time for class when he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. As he looked up, he saw his teacher, smiling and nodding, whispering, “You have come to the right place, my friend.”

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Voice-Team
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
Admin
1 year ago

A very visual and heart-felt story of the search for meaning. The budding of emotion and the blossoming cherry tree mirror each other memorably.    

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Christer, what a soft and tender story this is. I felt the story slowly unwrapping, till it reveals a real person. I can’t express how wonderfully written this is Christer, 10 out of 10.

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
1 year ago

Your story has a strong, soothing effect. Nice job, Christer!

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
Reply to  Christer Norrlof
1 year ago

You’re welcome, Christer.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 year ago

How many of us live in loneliness Christer until something as simple as witnessing an act of friendship or love awakens what is missing in our lives. I felt those rush of tears under the cherry tree and the release they brought. And I loved the last line. Beautifully written.

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Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
1 year ago

I felt such relief when he let go of his loneliness, strain and suppressed emotions. And, hope that he will continue to move forward. A story sure to connect with anyone who feels that something is missing. Well done!

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

Christer, I wish that I could cry like a flood of tears to wash out all my loneliness, problems, and worries like your protagonist. I wish there is also a cherry tree to be my refugee while crying. I want all my burdens gone and replace it all with happiness and contentment. Congratulations on your well-written piece.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Christer Norrlof
1 year ago

Thank you so much, Christer. Your words mean a lot to me, I will do all your advice tonight. Your knowledge is incomparable, and your kindness is immeasurable. Thank you again.

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Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
1 year ago

Wow, Christer, I didn’t get the title reference. I had certainly heard of the Paul Newman movie, although I don’t think I ever watched it. Hopefully I can find it on Amazon Prime tonight! I loved your title, even though I didn’t get the association, and thought it was very appropriate for the story. It’s memorable in its own way, although I might not be able to quote it word for word!!

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