Friday I stood in the ocean's infinite waters, watching the dance between sky and sea -- one reaching down for a kiss, one stretching upward to grant it. Awed, I acknowledged the profound; this is what heaven is like, I thought. And, like God in the Bible, I too, thought it was good.
Saturday, I felt this way again. I stood in front of another waterfront: Lake Champlain, watching silhouetted canoes glide past a tremendous sunset. I was there with my best friend, Sheila, and her family for a concert -- The Avett Brothers and Grace Potter. As color cascaded over the sky, music cascaded over the crowds, filling the park. Banjo, guitar, upright base created sound that surged through the heart of me. The chilled air nibbled through my sweatshirt, caressed my cheeks and that of those around me. But few noticed. This crowd knew the heat of pleasure. We soared to our feet -- clapping, dancing, singing until our throats ran dry. We became a part of the concert, indistinguishable in our hearts from the people on the stage. We knew these songs, they were ours. We embraced them.
I looked to my left to my best friend mouthing the words to our song. I looked to my right at a clutch of college-aged students swinging their bodies in heat. The melody tore through my soul. I was part of something bigger than myself. Thrilled, I acknowledged the profound; this is what heaven is like, I thought and it was good.
Moments like this always take me back to a time when concerts meant getting out of Vermont, leaving my rural roots behind and traveling to Boston with my brother and the boy I loved. It was thrilling to be traveling to the city, to someplace new. We would browse comic shops and record stores. Eat at bistros and coffeehouses, sampling Thai and Indian and experiences far flung from Bethel, Vermont. As the day faded, we would make our way to the concert venue. We would revel in the music, under crisp night skies in stadiums and concert fields, returning in the twilight hours in my brother's mustang. We would leave the top down, but turn the heat up, so our feet would toast as the wind whipped our hair and U2's Where the Streets Have No Name cut through the night. We were young and whenever music floods over me like this, I remain that way.
Concerts are a metaphor for life, I think. We hear the music as one -- all on the same journey. We stand together, rocking to the rhythm. But, we experience it alone.
Yet, at water's edge, in music's midst, we are swallowed by the sacred. Frozen in feeling, we stretch upward for a kiss, humbled as the holy reaches down to grant it. We know heaven when we see it. And, it is good.