It was sort of a blind date.
I had met a man on a Catholic dating website, spoken with him several times on the phone, and we were meeting in person for the first time.
He suggested we meet at a midpoint between our homes. We settled on dining in downtown Ellicott City on a Saturday evening.
“Why don’t we go to Mass beforehand?” I asked. I couldn’t think of a safer—or more appropriate—place to meet a blind date than at a Catholic church. Besides, if he balked, I figured I’d know a little more about him. Without hesitation, he agreed and found a Saturday Mass for us at St. Mark’s in Catonsville.
We had talked easily during our phone conversations, so I was curious to see how we would connect in person. But I was relaxed as I pulled into the parking lot at St. Mark’s.
I was about 15 minutes early, so I parked and waited for him to arrive.
Then I started wondering.
What would he be like? What would he think of me? Was there anything I didn’t know about him already?
And it was then that I saw a white pick-up truck. I could only see the driver from behind. His left arm was resting on the window ledge. And he was holding a…what? A cigarette?
Could that be my date?
Did he smoke?
Had he posted that in his profile?
Was I so excited to see that our views matched on artificial contraception, the ordination of women, and weekly Mass attendance that I had overlooked the fact that he was a smoker?
And did it make me terribly shallow that I was thinking of fleeing a church parking lot because I couldn’t see past this one habit?
I was frozen. I was flustered. I didn’t know what to do.
So I slouched down in my car and waited.
A few minutes later the pick-up truck drove away, and I relaxed. I got out of the car and walked up to the front steps of the church.
And there, just minutes before Mass began, my date arrived.
He wasn’t smoking.
He was apologizing for being late.
He was smiling.
And he looked as happy to see me as I was to see him.
We went into the church and sat together—separated carefully by a first-date distance. One of the readings that day was the reading we heard yesterday from Ephesians 5.
“Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church….”
I listened to God’s Word and wondered what this man sharing my pew was thinking. Did he see the beauty in those lines, or did he believe they were irrelevant in the 21st century? If nothing else, I figured it would give us good dinnertime conversation later, along with the story of the smoking truck driver. And it did.
I can’t recall every moment of that first evening together. But I remember the man I met. Thirteen months later our lives were joined forever as we said our vows before our family and friends.
Yesterday morning I walked up those same steps at St. Mark’s holding the hand of a different young man, our 4-year-old son. (John went to a later Mass.) Together Leo and I listened to the same lines from Ephesians 5 that his father and I heard nine years ago this weekend.
Well, we listened to some of the lines. The truth is that just as the lector started reading, Leo leaned over and whispered into my ear, “Mama, when it’s my birthday, can you and Baba give me a rocket? And can you make me a rocket cake?”
He got a whispered “yes.” Then he sat quietly—if not entirely still—for the rest of Mass.
Leo may have been thinking of his rocket cake.
Me? I was thanking God that my blind date nine years ago led me to a man who shares my faith and tremendous love for our two sons.
Only God knew that a journey that started at that Catonsville church would lead us along so many paths—including on two trips to the other side of the world to adopt our sons—and then bring us back, week after week, to the same church to worship together.