I am always surprised by joy, and that is what is suffusing my entire being. I feel it start deep in my belly and spread up and over my body, and I recognize it for what it is: a slow flush of love for the world -- the sheer pleasure of being here, the profound honor of witnessing life. As I paddle home across the pond, I'm overwhelmed with the beauty all around me. There's a lot to enjoy in a life of solitude, I've learned, but I know that I'm not alone, either. Love is all around me.
A splash of white in the distance catches my eye. It is a bride. She seems to be standing at the steps of the porch of a neighbor's house, at the far end of a wide, sloping lawn. She is looking out at the water beyond. All the hope, all the love. All our beginnings, over and over again. The wind gusts, and it is blowing hard. The bride's veil lifts off the stairs and flies behind her like a banner. How brave she is.
I reflexively put my binoculars to my eyes and adjust them to get a better look. The bridesmaids are in black gowns, red shawls wrapped around their shoulders. How clever these children's styles are now; they look like the red-winged blackbirds that careen through the meadow. The groom, with his proud bearing, glances at the musicians, a cellist flanked by a flutist and a violinist. They are pulling their bows across the strings, swaying, bending into the music, but the wind is blowing the sound away from me, and I cannot hear a thing. The wedding is played out in pantomime. Soundlessly, the procession moves down the brick path; soundlessly, the musicians play; soundlessly, the minister says his blessing; soundlessly, the congregation claps and the children cheer a silent kiss.