So there I was, working away on some grading, only half-listening to the Pandora Radio streaming in from the computer speakers. Suddenly the music had my full attention as I heard the gentle, lovely sound of Gabriel’s Oboe flowing toward me (listen here). I couldn’t move. These were the sounds I heard, you see, when I glided, joyous and barefoot, down the aisle at my wedding. No Here Comes the Bride, All Dressed in White for me, thank you; instead, I had these achingly beautiful strains accompanying me into the life I so longed for, with the man I loved beyond measure.
And then, of course, life happened. Joy and disappointment, hurtful words, great quantities of laughter. An unbelievable, almost fairy tale love that outlived the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. And an all-encompassing, life-rending sorrow.
I walk through my days carrying all of this with me, as part of me, as perhaps the greatest truth of me. For years that sorrow was the focal point of my existence, and existence was all it was. Finally I found my way back to the love, to knowing it for the deeper truth and the higher vision. The image of God stands before me, I know, each time I look into the face of another, and the image flames into brightness when I let the all-pervading love flow through me; you can’t do that so much when you are just existing. Walking barefoot down that church aisle, I didn’t know that the love I would receive from this man, this one finite being, would prove to be so much the mark of the infinite. I just knew I was happy, and I was home.
I haven’t heard that song in years until this morning, and to say that the moment was bittersweet doesn’t seem to do it justice. First came the bitter in hot salty tears that stung my eyes almost before I knew why they were there, as though my body recognized what I was hearing before my consciousness could catch up. But the next moment went beyond sweet into searing and aching and beautiful and joyous, gratitude sweeping through me for all of these experiences together. The life I’ve lived is not the one I expected when I glided toward my future with Gabriel’s Oboe; it is a life unexpected, but unendingly beautiful.