(photo cred: Bell Archive/ NatGeo FOUND)
A man, Alexander, and a woman, Mabel, stand on the cliff’s edge, overlooking the water. It’s February in Nova Scotia, which means the weather’s no picnic. They hold hands; his left pocketed in her right. While his wide body angles slightly inward toward their hands, her shoulders square up to meet the water-line. Her left hand, balled in a fist, rests on her hip.
How long they stood on the cliff’s edge, whether or not they talked, the content and duration of said possible conversation —
The looks on their faces, whether or not they’re smiling, if they’re laughing or crying, if they’re holding their breaths, if they’re steeling themselves against the winds —
Whether or not they’re praying, if they’re thankful for each other, for the ocean spray and the grass swirling around their feet, if they’re tired, if they want to be somewhere else, if they’re in mourning, if they’re full of unbridled, uncontainable, infinite love and light and joy —
— all are mysteries never to be resolved.
It’s 1898 in Nova Scotia, and two people stand on the edge of the world.
Folded into their clasping hands, into their steadying stances, into their angled and squared-up shoulders is Mystery. We are invited to witness Mystery, but not its Solve.
* * *
A man, Tyler, and a woman, Natalie, stand at the altar, looking at each other. It’s March in Portland, which normally means it’s cold — except it’s almost 70 degrees today, and blue skies as far as the eye can see. Each body orients toward the other. Each person takes turns breaking into smile-laughter-pins-and-needles-shake-gleeful-giggle-J-O-Y.
Before they recite their vows, they ask all husbands and wives to stand with their spouses and face each other. And to repeat the vows along with them.
I, Tyler-Alexander-Sean-Ben-Ryan-Wyatt, take you, Natalie-Mabel-Laura-Hannah-Jocelyn-Shannon.
Couples who’ve been married five months, five years, twenty-thirty-forty-fifty years — all standing, all speaking the same words.
And Lord, the Mystery latent in each of those words — the untouchable, unknowable Elements woven into and baked into those interlocking eyes, into those folded hands, into those whispered words, into the tears welling up, into the shared smiles — so much pain, so much darkness, so much laughter, so much dancing, so much trembling, so many wiped tears, so many exhales, so many embraces, so much wonder and so much delight and so much so much so much prayer and leap upon leap upon leap.
It’s 2015 And all at once, everyone’s at the altar — all of the Lord’s children, all in prayer, all Found.
Once more, dearly beloved. Once more.