At the end of Sunday Mass this week, I was standing next to my little brother. The processional hymn began, so I opened the missal to share it with him, pointing out the verses so that he could follow along. Because I was too hoarse to sing that day, I heard better than ever Samuel's strong young voice, hitting all the right notes, but stumbling over the difficult words & syllables. (Sam reads at a high level for a 7-year-old, but even Asterix & Obelix don't have words like cher-u-bim and ser-a-phim!)

His earnest, focused face; his sweet voice; the way he kept at hymnbook even though it was difficult -- it was a beautiful little moment in which I felt very blessed.

But there was also another feeling that shot through me in those few happy seconds. There was an inner knowledge that said, "This moment is full of joy, but it's almost over. The organist will stop playing, people will go on living, Sam will grow up, and this moment will only be a vague memory." It was a feeling of pain because I knew the moment was leaving me as it was happening.

When I'm listening to a song with just a perfect chord here or a ravishing lift there, I experience the same thing. The music is so beautiful that I hurt just knowing that the song will end. I want to linger in it. I want it to last forever.

Heaven lasts forever, but I don't imagine it as an infinite set of moments that are always passing by. I think it's more like one infinite moment -- one beautiful lingering.  

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