Friday, December 19, 2014


How much love can the human heart hold? Scientists can measure the diameter of an atom or the distance of a star, but who has ever devised an instrument to measure the depth and height of human emotion? These past few days, the heart is beating to a music that renders the troubadours and Cole Porter speechless. After four intense months with five lovely people, the remarkable Orff Interns and two colleagues who still move and surprise me with their humanistic virtuosity, we reached the end. Yesterday, the final preschool sing, last night the three extraordinary Holiday Shows, this morning the clean-up from last night and ice-skating with the kids. Then two different performances of St. George and the Dragon by 8th graders, an all-school (minus preschool) Holiday Sing where angels descended and the kids filled the room with their beautiful and heartbreakingly innocent and sincere singing, a boisterous White Elephant gathering with the staff and then our final formal circle to express the depth of our gratitude and try to name the miracle of what we achieved.

That was enough for any person to hold in his heart. But there was more to come. From the above closing circle to the slow crawl of freeway traffic en route to the Oakland Airport. Arriving earlier than we expected, daughter Talia and I veered off to Alameda for a Thai dinner and then picked up my other daughter Kerala and that extraordinary granddaughter of mine, Zadie. Immediately Zadie started talking in the car and at 3-years-old and one month, already a different little person than the one I saw at Thanksgiving. She talked to her Dad and on the phone and had a real conversation, ending with “I love you, too!!” What’s that song from Fiddler on the Roof?—“wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.”

Then I watched Kerala read Zadie a night-night book in the same bed where she slept for 16 years and if the heart was a mere organ with a measurable volume of emotion, it certainly would have burst. But it turns out that love can shrink down to the diameter of an atom or expand to send its light to a distant star. My mother-in-law lies in a Michigan bed after 90 revolutions of the earth around the sun possibly preparing her farewell, a new life grows in Kerala’s belly preparing his or her greeting, the kids circling the skating rink were the same as the ones who have glided and stumbled and fallen on slippery ice these past 40-years with me at their side, the Interns arrived at the final cadence of the beautiful music we made, closing chords that will echo down the years for us all. Such sweet presence, such bitter approaching absence, the push and pull of time’s maddening pendulum of here and gone, its soothing cycle of ritual markers circling round and round like children skating. And all of it calling forth the agony and ecstasy of pure and simple love.

Who can measure the immeasurable?


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