The bride and groom had earlier invited me to participate in the "Blessings" part of the ceremony. I was to select something (or create something) about the subject of hope. That day a few weeks ago when she'd called to confirm that I'd accepted this assignment, I knew instantly what that would be. It was ordained somewhere in the annals of time as if waiting to be called up for just this occasion:
I must have been all of sixteen. My friends were probably reading the Ruth Fielding Series for girls -- but I'd discovered Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and had been spending every waking hour reading through every line. Can't recall whether I completed it that summer, but it was close. I was utterly fascinated by these snatches of larger pieces, and wondered about the writers and lovers and poets and orators and presidents and kings represented among those pages. I'd been guided to it by a wonderful librarian at the local library, and in the years that followed -- while building my own library -- this was one of the first books I bought to place on my book shelves -- along with the Pooh Series and a worn copy of Aesops Fables received as a birthday gift from a very loving Aunt Vivian. My well-worn copy with the dog-eared pages is still here within sight.
What did I choose?
It was from Letters to Abigail by John Adams:
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and the sciences, navigation, commerce and agriculture -- in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelane."
I can think of no more hopeful message in these dark days.
Since those of us chosen to give our blessings were also asked to present them to the couple for their memory book, I wrote mine on a lovely card then slipped that into a vintage invitation to a fundraiser banquet for 1984 presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. It was fitting since the bride is a young colleague with whom I'd worked under two members of the California State Assembly. The groom is the current Chief of Staff for Rep. Barbara Lee. Barbara and I were both blessing presenters, and sat together through the ceremony. The dinner invitation announced as Honorary Chairpersons, then Congressman Ron Dellums, and Guest Speaker, Assemblywoman Maxine Waters. Ron, of course, being Barbara Lee's predecessor in Congress, and (now) Rep. Maxine Waters being at that time Loni and Dion's predecessors in the State Assembly. It all seemed fitting.
There has not -- to this time -- been any way to pass along that beautiful bit of Adams wisdom. It was waiting there in some part of my brain to be reawakened at just this moment in time. About a year ago -- for a day or so -- it had flashed across my mind in fragments that I couldn't completely piece together. I recall asking online if anyone remembered that lovely piece. I'd been searching Bartlett's for it and -- try as I might -- it would not reveal itself. I'd leafed through page by page for hours in a fruitless search.
A peculiar thing happened at the time, and I took note of it. Somewhere in my memory bank or muscle memory, or someplace more metaphysically apt, it had been stored. I noticed that I was scanning with both brain and finger only the left page as I turned them. Somewhere I knew that it was in that book - on the left page -- and somewhere in the middle of the page -- only nearer to the bottom... and there it had waited for all those years.
It eluded me.
I went online and put out a plea. Someone answered with the full quotation. I was so grateful for having retrieved it, and wrote it out and attached it to the side of my computer with scotch tape; for what reason I did not know.
That is, until yesterday!
There is a feeling that comes more and more frequently these days. It is still ephemeral -- unsteady -- but nonetheless persistent. It is this; that at least some part of me (us?) exists in a dimension not effected by time and space. A place where there is only NOW, and all of life is simultaneous. In the course of things, I'll surely not live long enough to fully understand what that means, but someone at sometime will. Some have gotten close and called it "GOD." Einstein named it "e=mc squared, and the Quantum Theory and the discoveries of black holes in the universe all hint at it, but until life has been extended beyond present possibilities, it will probably remain as elusive as the beautiful continuum of life described by the hopes of John Adams for future generations.
Now I need to get back to the really important Saturday stuff like sorting laundry and matching socks and figuring out just what on earth to fix for dinner!