Monday, May 28, 2007

Shakespeare Sonnet 116

On the occasion of my son's wedding.

I read a little while ago that in future computer data would be stored differently than now. All the technology now available only provides for temporary storage, more or less. Hard drives fail, DVDs, CDs, flash memory are all impermanent. In future the most permanent, enduring memory will be written in industrial diamond. When we reach the ability, in ten years or so, to store data at the rate of one bit per atom, say carbon-12 for zero and carbon-13 for one, we will be able to store in 25 grams of diamond memory matrix every event in the lives of all the citizens of Germany, for instance, for six years. Please see this.

But lovers have known this for millennia. Nothing new here. What is a memory if not forever, and what is forever if not diamonds? Thus their ubiquity in wedding rings.

But I digress. Forgive please.

This was a civil ceremony which somehow troubled me greatly. I suppose I had nothing to worry over and this appropriately filled that all important slot in my mental life for a brief interlude from more mundane matters. I wrote the following email to finally and fully vent the pressures in my tumultuous, tormented soul. Weddings are not easy. This is true on many levels. It is an intensely spiritual event and can, if done with extreme care and attention to every detail bring a beauty of supernal light into a gathering of family and friends, a beauty that will endure and serve as a touchstone for those who follow us down life's path. This wedding, the planning of which studiously sought, I perceived, to exclude any and all references to the sacred turned out to my everlasting delight and surprise to do just the opposite. Yes, it was intended to be merely secular, appealing only to the approbation of the state as the one true source of meaning for the ritual performed, but when Shakespeare took the stage all that went by the way.

The email:

Christopher and Amber,
At the wedding I didn't get to make a toast for whatever reason so indulge me here instead, please. I am not sure what my toast would have been, probably not quite what you see here. The toasts that were made brilliantly balanced levity and gravity and would have been impossible to top and difficult to equal, most especially Amber's dad. It seems early in my life it was all levity. Perhaps that explains why now it is all gravity. At any rate, here are some thoughts I would share.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Ellen Weaver's rendition of these words was by far the highlight of the wedding. Her voice in these immortal words brought eternal spirit into the very moment and transformed what would have otherwise been the merely secular into the sacred. So the two, Christopher and Amber, became one; a one centered everywhere, bounded nowhere. For that is the nature of soul, further evidence of which is the ability to "gaze steadfastly at stars which, though distant are yet present to the mind." Love is the faculty of bringing that star, "ever-fixèd mark", into the very heart of one, so from wherever the light shines, it shines from the heart. Love, "an ever-fixed to every wand'ring bark...not time's fool.." untouched by chaos, time's tumult, endures " the edge of doom." As such it is evidence of an abiding spirit beyond mere material reality.
With Christopher, captive audience, en route to Pilot Point I gave similar voice to these sentiments, but my source was different. Our friend Plato's thought was that love was a spirit too and that the creator, in need of a device, a vehicle, with which commerce could be carried between sentient life and himself, brought love into being. I pointed out to Chris that my own thoughts were that giving and receiving love, participation in love, actually grows love as spirit, as vehicle, and thus it lives, thrives. It shines like the sun and, like light, is attractive, drawing souls towards itself.
My benefactor said to me that doing good made doing good easier the next time a choice to do otherwise presented itself. I have come to see the wisdom of this and note herewith that you two, together, have done good and made it look so natural and with such eloquent and elegant ease that life for all that might happen to pass through your shadow will not be there eclipsed but attracted by your combined light will find their own light kindled and renewed. Love begets love. A simple mystery to discover, not a riddle to unravel.
Finally, understanding, for the secular mind, ever depends on being able to take measure, to find a dimension, a boundary condition. Note carefully that love, as discussed here, and this is likewise true of its cousins, truth, beauty, courage, meaning, justice and so forth, have no dimension, boundary condition. They are qualities of spirit and thus can't be measured. Understanding of these, therefore, is not based on measure, on dimension, and to have it is to acknowledge the unfathomably deep mystery of life. Discovery of that mystery is the very action of the unknown and understanding is never complete thereof but instead ever new. I ask, does a waterfall ever change?

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