Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory -
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art is gone, Love itself shall slumber on.
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)
Roseanne and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary this week.
We married very young; both of us were just 21.
Roseanne's major at UCLA was in poetry, and until I met Roseanne, my only exposure to poetry was "Casey at the Bat".
A few months after our courtship began, Roseanne shared with me the above Shelley poem and the line "Love itself shall slumber on" has stayed with me throughout the years.
When we are young we travel life's journey, taking the gift of the future for granted.
With time we realize that the only gift we can count on is the "Present".
Pictures might memorialize the images, but the true essence happened within the moment itself. (It's for this reason that I haven't taken so many photos myself as I always fear the distraction from the truth of the moment).
The rabbis ask: why is the Song of Songs included in the Bible?
Some rabbinic authorities assert that it's because it's a metaphor for the love between God and the People of Israel, but I disagree.
Song of Songs joined our Biblical Canon specifically because it's our literature of love as a verb:
Oh, give me of the kisses of your mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine.
Your ointments yield a sweet fragrance, your name is like finest oil - therefore do maidens love you.
Draw after me, let us run! .....
Let us delight and rejoice in your love...
Ah, you are beautiful, my darling, with your dove-like eyes.
And you, my beloved, are handsome...
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the maidens.
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the youths.
I delight to sit in his shade...
Arise, my darling; my fair one, come away... ...
Eat, lovers, and drink, drink deep of love...
I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine (Ani l'dodi v'dodi li)...
Let me be a seal upon your heart, like the seal upon your hand.
For love is strong as death, its darts are darts of fire, a blazing flame.
The most tangible presence of God that I perceive is the presence of love.
When Roseanne and I stood under the chuppah (wedding canopy) for our traditional Jewish wedding, we didn't recite any vows.
In the Jewish tradition, we don't recite anything like "I promise to honor, support, etc."
We didn't even say "I love you".
There are no words large enough that encompass all that Love (the verb) calls upon us.
Love's attributes are too large to list: affirm, support, listen, laugh, cry, empathize, sacrifice, serve, embrace...Love is all encompassing, without limits, like God.
There is a reason that the numerical value of AHAVA (Love in Hebrew) equals 13, for the rabbis teach that there are thirteen primary attributes to God, and yet Love covers them all.
The wedding ring is circular and smooth because it's the original "circle of life".
Love has no beginning, middle or end.
Love in the moment is all that there is and can be.
"Love slumbers on" because when it takes place it becomes an eternal ripple defying the limits of time and space.
Love is the endless verb, a relationship encompassing the ultimate in holiness.
Love does conquer death because in its moment lived it's eternal in nature.
Love gives us our purpose, and is our ultimate memorial.
"Love itself shall slumber on" in the place where our dreams are fully alive.
Tonight, we are blessed to share our wedding anniversary with our Temple Sholom community while we also celebrate our daughter's Aufruf, the traditional calling of bride and groom to the bimah in order for them to be blessed before the Ark of the Torah before their own wedding day.
For Roseanne and me, it is the perfect way to celebrate our 32 years of marriage by sharing our simcha with our community so that we can all live in the Present with as much love as we can both give and receive.