The Bubble Catcher
A tale of the rarest of gifts (6/2003)
Through the years, the legend grew. Through the years, the children of the town listened with eyes gazing upwards and ears alert as their parents and grandparents spread the legend, amazed them with the tale of the Bubble Catcher. Through the years, most kids didn’t think it was possible. No way, they’d say. But for every child that doubted, there were two who believed.
The legend of the Bubble Catcher stretched back almost a hundred years. The legend spoke of a boy so free of pain, fear and guilt—so peaceful, so at ease with himself and the world – that he could catch bubbles on his hands. Not just some of the time; all of the time. Simple, you say? Try it and you’ll see. The boy had a gift.
As a child, the Bubble Catcher lived a simple, even austere, life. No television, not many toys. But he had his imagination and he had his father. The Bubble Catcher envisioned and imagined and dreamt. He experimented and tinkered and played. He wandered and wondered and pondered. He took long walks with his father along the gentle stream that ran along the edge of town, where they talked about the many mysteries of the world, of life.
Once in a great while, the boy’s father would bring home a simple, but special treat—a bottle of liquid soap. Father and son would bend hangars to make loops and use a frying pan to hold the soap. As a young boy, the Bubble Catcher wasn’t able to make particularly large bubbles, unlike his father who was a master at this. But the boy that would become known as the Bubble Catcher had a talent that would become his namesake. No matter how large or small, the wunderkind was able to catch bubbles any time he wanted to. It was as if some magical power, some unseen hand gently guided the bubbles until they came to rest gently on the boy’s outstretched hands.
The boy had a small group of friends. They’d often play at the boy’s house and occasionally they’d be there when the boy’s father would bring home a bottle of soap. They watched as the Bubble Catcher worked his magic.
At first, the other boys figured it was easy. Then they tried it. Sure, most could catch a bubble now and again, but none could regularly, reliably do so.
“How do you do it?” One of the boys asked.
The boy had thought about it. He’d even talked about it with his father.
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” he started. “I just want to catch them. That’s it. I simply want to catch them. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.”
“What are you talking about? We all want to catch them. We want to know how you do it.”
“That’s what I’m telling you. I told you it was hard to explain. It’s just that I don’t expect to catch them. I don’t worry that I won’t. That’s it.”
“Whatever. Forget I asked.” This from one of the more impatient boys.
Through the years, more and more children came to “play bubbles” with the special boy who had by then earned his nickname. Through the years, these children told other children, who told still more children. And the legend was born.
Now, some eighty-plus years later, the town was much the same and the legend was more that—legend—than memory. In fact, somehow the town had managed to lose track of what had become of the boy with the magical touch.
One day, a young girl was told the story of the Bubble Catcher when her parents first gave her a bubble making set. Unlike the Bubble Catcher’s two generations earlier, hers was a fancy plastic affair, with several rings of various sizes inside. When her parents presented it to her, they sat her down and told her the legend of a special boy who lived in the town many years prior.
The girl was deeply affected by the story. And saddened that the town had apparently not cared enough about this unique person to know what had become of him.
The girl’s parents did not notice when this young girl, Jenny, demonstrated the very same talent as the Bubble Catcher.
One year, the girl’s parents bought her a collie. The puppy was a beautiful light brown color, with eager eyes and a beautiful coat. Jenny simply loved the dog, eagerly accepting the responsibilities that came with having a pet. She reliably fed him and bathed him. She walked with him everywhere, even slept with him every night once she begged and pleaded with her parents enough times to make them give in on the subject.
Some twenty years later, Jenny graduated college and became a veterinarian. Her love of animals—dogs especially—stayed with her throughout her life, so she turned naturally to this profession. Her friends would all say that she had gentleness about her, serenity beyond her years. She heard people talk about it—about her. She knew what they were talking about; she felt it as a sort of cloud of calm that wrapped her life. She’d always felt special, although she was unable to explain this to anyone.
After receiving her degrees, Jenny decided to move back to her hometown to practice. She found a small shop on Main Street, right next to the General Store and hung her sign above the door. She was the town’s first and only veterinarian.
Through the years, the townspeople came to know about Jenny. Not just that she had a way with animals, but that she had a way with people, too. She was never too busy to say hello with a smile. Never too busy to ask people how they were doing, and actually wait for—and care about – their answer.
One day, an elderly man walked into Jenny’s shop with an aging cocker spaniel. The dog was old, the man older still. The man must have been over ninety, perhaps even a hundred. Though he walked with a bit of the stoop that afflicts most elderly, he had the bearing of a man straight of back, solid of character.
“May I help you?” Jenny asked.
“I hope you can. My dog, Benjamin, he is very ill.”
Jenny motioned to the examination table in the corner and said, “Please, let me take a look at him.”
The old man glided to the table and gently set his beloved dog on the table. Jenny began her examination.
Jenny could tell something was wrong with the cocker spaniel. It wasn’t just old age. Sure, the dog was aged, but this was something different.
Jenny held the dog’s neck from behind with both hands. Her thumbs massaged just below and behind the dog’s ears. The cocker spaniel let out an almost wolf-like howl. With a strange glowing sensation about her, Jenny felt—actually felt—the energy and healing leaving her fingertips and entering the dog.
A few moments later, the dog seemed alert and upbeat. A remarkable change from just minutes earlier.
“You have it too, don’t you?” The old man asked.
“What do you mean?” Jenny wasn’t sure what had just happened and wished she had some time alone to figure it out. The old man seemed to think he knew what had happened.
“The gentleness. The magic touch of gentleness.”
“What do you mean, sir?”
“I have it too, you know. Mine only works on people, though. Not animals.” After this brief admission, the man explained himself. “You have a gift,” he told Jenny. Jenny somehow knew that he was right, though until that moment when she’d held the man’s dog, she had never used it or even known about it consciously.
The man’s dog sat up, jumped down from the table, then back up into the man’s arms. Just like that, man and dog were ready to go.
“How much do I owe you, young lady?”
“N…n… nothing sir. It’s on the house.”
“Thank you kindly, young lady.” And with that the old man was through the shop’s front door and gone.
Jenny’s head was reeling. She had just healed a dog with nothing more than her bare hands. Her bare hands.
Then it hit her. So many years ago, when her parents first bought her very first bubble blowing kit. So many years ago, when she realized that she had a gift that none of the other children had.
Then it hit her again. Different ‘it’, though.
The old man was about the right age. And he had a way about him, too. Like her, he seemed to glide about, emitting a sense of tranquility to all around. Jenny realized that she had just met the Bubble Catcher. The original Bubble Catcher, anyway.