To be happily surprised


The Jersey landscape going north / New Jersey / Jan. 2008

This morning driving north to central Jersey where the landscape changes. A slow climb through gentle hills. Long vistas of trees and fields. An old barn with sheep grazing in the cold morning air. A funeral for the father of an old college friend, Jane's father. A modern church with floor-to-ceiling windows at each corner that invite the Jersey landscape inside. Even the gray winter views are comforting and lovely. A family with four young children sit beside me and immediately one wants to know, Where is God? I later learn that they are neighbors who visited frequently; the children loved to play with the buttons that controlled the hospital bed and were an energetic and welcome counterpoint to the inactivity of a man who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease. The priest reads the well-known quote from Lou Gehrig's farewell speech (“today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth”). But then he continues reading from the speech: “When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that's the finest I know.” An accurate description of Jane's mother and how she has cared for her husband for seven years. As the mass closes the pianist begins to play the 2nd movement of Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 (New World Symphony). It is the only piece of music that I distinctly remember from a music class that Jane and I took in college — we sat in carrels in the music building listening through heavy earphones. The music seems to hang in the air above us and then drift out slowly and easily across the barren fields.


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