Jenna + Eric | Heinz Chapel Wedding, Pittsburgh

“…and that’s the story of the time we spontaneously decided to fly to Barcelona,” Jenna said with a bright laugh.

It was a brisk November evening and Jenna and Eric were getting married in four days. Despite this being the first time I was meeting them in person, the conversation was easy, and meaningful. 

In between European travels and taking leaps of faith across the United States to be with each other, I could have spent hours listening to Jenna and Eric regale me with their adventures.  There is a palpable energy in the air when you’re in the presence of people with such vibrant spirits.  Jenna and Eric love each other so deeply, and are so in sync with each other, that it was a sheer pleasure to watch them talk and laugh and share stories with each other.

In the midst of our conversation, we were talking about art. Jenna introduced me to a term in Spanish – one of those words that that has no English equivalent. Duende, in a literal translation, means goblin or elf.  But Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca first used the term to address a a less literal goblin: instead, the intangible, fiery spirit behind great works of art that stirred emotion:

“The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, ”The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation … everything that has black sounds in it, has duende.”

Do you remember the last time you heard a melody so beautiful it brought tears to your eyes? Or saw a painting so masterful it made you catch your breath? If we open our hearts up enough to experience art, in all of its beautiful forms, we will encounter duende.

I think something like duende is at play when we get to experience love, as well. When pure, selfless love is on display, what hope do we humans have but to feel inspired?

I’m an emotional person to begin with—to be honest, a well-scripted beer commercial can get me if I’m in the right mood.  I like to leave my heart open for beautiful things to move me, to make me feel, to inspire me.  Jenna and Eric had such a gorgeous wedding day, celebrating their love with their dearest friends and family. And sure, I admit it, I shed a few tears.   But I know that means I just have a healthy dose of duende in me.

Jenna and Eric, you two bring brightness and love and inspiration everyone who knows you. I’m so grateful you invited me to be a part of your incredible day. Here is how I will remember your day.