My mother's dear friends invited us for an evening in Salt Lake City. These lovely friends are not members of the church, but were invited by a Mormon Tabernacle Choir member to be a guest and rehearse with the choir-- a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Truly, it was an experience I will never forget, and I wasn't the one singing with the choir (I did hum along though...). I am still smiling like crazy because life just keeps unfolding these moments where I see God's hand and it fills me with perfect joy.
As we made our way to The Garden Restaurant for dinner, I was able to meet three other older couples, all of whom were so kind and genuine. (Aren't people the best? You know, I'm tired of seeing memes about how people are the worst, because they really are quite wonderful if you take the time to give them a chance, give them a listen, and love). When we sat down to dinner, all of the women were on one side and all of the men on the other. I was the youngest there by far-- by at least thirty years. Luckily, I got to sit the closest to all of the old guys. You know something? I had such an enjoyable meal paired with exquisite conversation. These kind men asked me all about my life pursuits, then complemented me on how beautiful I was, how lovely my smile was, and how rare my red hair and blue eyes are, how my shirt was the perfect shade. They refused to let the blue-eyes thing go. It was so sweet! I loved talking with them about their pursuits and hearing wisdom that comes only with time.
When dinner was cleared, all of us ordered dessert. I ordered something I would never ever choose because I've learned this summer that I want to run at life with my arms wide open and a smile on my face. All of the men asked me how I liked my creme brulee, keen on hearing my opinion. Caramel custard topped with fresh fruit is actually pretty scrumptious.
Somehow, the pleasant time spent together grew and grew. Our group was escorted through the conference center and seated on the front row to listen to the rehearsal. I was completely stunned and smiling so much my cheeks hurt. Hearing the choir and orchestra sing and play "Smile," "All Creatures of Our God and King," "Peace Like A River;" I am so grateful for people who share their talents. Seeing a dear friend living a dream was remarkable. I loved every single minute and was so starstruck about it all. Someday when I'm a mother, I'll get to tell my sweet darlings about everything. That's the thing about experiences-- they are meant for sharing.
On Sunday I was kindly invited to a delicious dinner, which surrounded me with brilliant people and great conversation. The evening was lovely and needed. I loved being there, just being... In those moments, the simplest of actions end up saying four exceptional words that everyone in any kind of relationship needs so desperately to hear: "You matter to me." Being human and living every day is such a gift from God, and the reality that the world is filled, and life is filled with other humans, makes this life an extraordinary one. Such moments deserve to be sealed up in a perfectly whimsical snow globe. And when life gets to be a particularly sorrowful shade of blue, you can take this perfect moment from the shelf, look and it, shake it, be reminded of it-- of all of the goodness and warmth of those memories. The ones that come from running at life with a smile and arms stretched out ready to embrace whatever comes.
In the past five months I have worked diligently to stride out of my comfort zone and to run at life, even if it means doing hard things and even if it means getting hurt in the process. If I intend to have a single drop of wisdom to offer my posterity, I must do. This evening reminded me of my intentions. A poignant Mary Oliver Poem comes to mind, one which explains how I've felt for several months. It's titled, "When Death Comes." This poem deserves to be a sturdy bookend to hold this piece of writing and reflection in its place, so here it is:
|When death comes|
|like the hungry bear in autumn;|
|when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse|
|to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;|
|when death comes|
|like the measle-pox|
|when death comes|
|like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,|
|I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:|
|what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?|
|And therefore I look upon everything|
|as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,|
|and I look upon time as no more than an idea,|
|and I consider eternity as another possibility,|
|and I think of each life as a flower, as common|
|as a field daisy, and as singular,|
|and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,|
|tending, as all music does, toward silence,|
|and each body a lion of courage, and something|
|precious to the earth.|
|When it's over, I want to say all my life|
|I was a bride married to amazement.|
|I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.|
|When it's over, I don't want to wonder|
|if I have made of my life something particular, and real.|
|I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,|
|or full of argument.|
|I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.|