Valentine’s Day 2008
“love is as strong as death…”
Song of Songs 8:6
Like many harpists, I have played for countless weddings of anxious brides and love-struck grooms. The settings vary from houses of worship to hotel ballrooms; ocean views to canopies of trees. Always there are tears amid laughter, joy and hope for the future.
Today was no different except that the beautiful young bride was dying and the setting was in a tiny hospital room surrounding her bed. Her simple gown was a “johnny”. Her lips were covered with a mask to help her breathe and her “veil” was the small cotton cap that covered her lockless crown. She was radiant as she held hands with her groom and listened to the chaplain read from the Song of Songs, “Arise my beloved and come to me.”
My main job is to provide soothing music throughout the lobbies and corridors of two major Boston hospitals as a gift to its patients, families and staff. But when the chaplain called to ask me to play bedside for a wedding, I knew I would be receiving a gift far greater than I could ever give ~ a gift of witnessing the power of love to transcend death.
I arrived early on the floor in hopes of filling the space with calm and reverence befitting the occasion. From behind my harp, I watched dedicated nurses transform themselves into party planners as they arranged food and decorations for a makeshift celebration. Flowers miraculously appeared and the chaplains rushed to copy a song the bride requested us to sing. From the elevator doors, family and friends poured into the hallway and the mother of the groom, surprised to see the harp, hesitantly asked if I would be around later. “Of course!” I smiled. “I’m here for the wedding.”
As I positioned the harp close to the bride’s pillow, I reminded the family that music is a conduit for emotion and that the harp’s job was simply to translate all the love in the room into music. Crying would be the grace notes that enhance the score. Together we would create the sacred space in which love would circulate around this couple and allow them to enter the dance of a cosmic love song that is eternal.
Never were the words of the Song of Songs more powerful as they declared, “I assure you that my love for you will never die.”
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