As I gazed into the wedding canopy where my younger daughter exchanged marriage vows with her betrothed some two and a half years ago, all of the fears floated out of me. The professional dreads, the generational anxieties, the clinging grudges, and the pounding griefs of this existence—they vanished. Time and mortality and the insecurities disappeared beneath the river of life.
Experience and pain have filled me with quiet compliance.
The bride was happy; she was no longer a child and the twigs bent under her feet toward eternity. Nothing cost anything, there were no cloaked resentments in the night air, and people were momentarily at utter peace with another. The only clock we knew had its hands in the stars; the moon knew everything, looked down, and sighed.
These are the moments when you just know there is a God and the best part is you don’t have to struggle with what that even means. You float in these rare interludes of tender human milestones and you cross, with some of the mystics, over the Chivnat Bridge into paradise. You dance with the Hopi Indians, cotton strands in your hands, making flowers to symbolize the heavens. Your eyes sting with the Buddhist wisdom that those who live in these moments may yet bless this realm again with angelic insight.
You are at one with everything and your pockets—like the white burial shrouds of the Jews—are empty. Your heart is full and you are not afraid to die. The happiness of a child is the bridge that binds this side to the other and there you are—and you comprehend for a fleeting, delicious moment—why it is good to be born and it is okay to die.
When my other daughter was born, I felt the stirrings of creation and my own particle of partnership with it. When my father died, inexplicably and impossibly young and we opened the earth to bury him, my mother cried like a broken vessel under the cold sun. My little sister danced among the nearby headstones and sang happy songs in defiance of the tyranny of time. Every moment like this has poured the peace into me; I know that the wine is sometimes bitter and sometimes sweet.
My much older mother wept again as I gazed into the canopy that night, smelling the nearby orange groves of central Israel and distant scent of the sea. It was not far from where I was born and it is also not far from where my both my parents—and all our elders—now sleep in the dust. I hear their voices from time to time so I know that my children will one day hear mine.
I don’t need anybody to tell me who or what God is and I’m not fearing death anymore. Experience and birth and sacred promises and exceptional pain have all filled me with quiet compliance. Who can be free near a child’s rapture and not know there is a God?