Excerpt from Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist (copyright 2005).
“Every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger.”
– From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
Okay, so there was this woman I knew. She was not a girly girl. She’d been raised with brothers, a mother who had no interest in accessories or luxury, and a mountain man for a father. Cosmetics and frou-frou clothes were not a part of her life as she grew up. Instead of a purse, she had her faithful hiking backpack. Instead of high heels, she had her tennis shoes and boots.
She was what you would call a late bloomer in the romance department. She was awkward around men and very self-conscious about any feminine wiles that might inadvertently peek out of her persona. Feminine wiles were not highly valued in her family and it was a little embarrassing to have any. There were young men who were attracted to her, but in her teens and early twenties she was mostly oblivious to their attraction or scared of it. There were young men to whom she was attracted, too, of course – but she mostly enjoyed fantasizing about them from afar, rather than having an actual relationship with any of them, and on those rare occasions when she took it in her head to try to flirt with one of them she had no idea how to go about it.
There came a day, though, when for the first time our heroine took interest in a male thigh. It was in the mountains of Colorado and the man who came with the thigh was young, confident, and easy to flirt with. Our heroine was twenty-two and for the first time realized that there might be more to find in the mountains than a good hike.
Not long after her epiphany about male thighs and other things male, a Dutch jazz musician entered her sphere. Now here was someone expert with the ways of romance. They spent almost a year together, culminating in a trip to The Netherlands to spend time with his family.
The Netherlands was the home of our heroine’s ancestors, and she felt a certain kinship with the people there. She loved the land – the tangy, saltwater smell of it, the wide open flatness and the canals, the black and white cows, the white lace curtains, the brick streets, the oldness and history. But, alas, there were no mountains to climb there. And, further alas, the Dutch jazz musician became someone she didn’t know when he stepped back onto his native soil.
In an autumnal Dutch wood on a sunny Dutch day, they both agreed that a certain kind of love and a certain kind of hate are very closely related and snipped the cords of their romance.
The relationship had to end. Our heroine knew that. But knowing it didn’t seem to make it any easier. It felt like someone she loved had died. She came home from Europe with her tail between her legs, dark circles under her eyes, and weighing about the same as Tinkerbell.
I think most people have experienced heartbreak at least once in their life. It’s a part of growing-up really. Makes us more empathetic to the pain of others, makes us more compassionate, and that’s a good thing – a blessing. And as Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger.”
It took our heroine a few months to recover and then she earnestly entered what she has come to call her “dating phase.” She was meeting men everywhere – parking lots, the supermarket, the workplace, hiking, through friends. These men were talented, witty, and smart – a German physicist, a teacher cum comedy script writer, a sweetheart of a man who introduced her to cross-country skiing for the first time – and it was a heady thing for her to have them all show an interest in her.
At first the dating phase was great fun. Because her life wasn’t committed to one person she had the freedom to go and do what she wanted, meet and date all these interesting men, take road trips on impulse, head for the hills on a whim, with no one else’s schedule to have to negotiate.
But about the time she turned twenty-six something began to change in her thought. Singlehood began to lose its charm and these men she’d been meeting all started to seem the same to her. Dating became a little monotonous. She felt unsatisfied with the lack of direction in her life. She was beginning to feel it was time to get serious about this relationship thing and stop dinking around.
In a moment of self honesty, she admitted to herself she’d been going out with the wrong kind of men for what she now needed and wanted in her life. Mary Baker Eddy writes in the chapter entitled “Marriage” in Science and Health: “Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship.” And so our heroine made a list of qualities that she wanted to find in someone: She wanted to meet a man of compassion and integrity; If this man was going to be a part of her life he’d also need a sense of humor, believe me; And he’d have to love the mountains, of course; and she’d really like him to have some kind of a creative, stimulating occupation; And, as a last whimsical thing, she decided that he’d come from either California, Colorado, or Connecticut. She’d gone out with short men, tall men, blond, dark, wiry, and sturdy – and they’d all been attractive to her. But an image of The One came to mind: He’d be about six feet tall, lanky, have brown hair, and glasses.
In December of ‘82 a woman named Peggy, whom our heroine had met a couple of years before through the Dutch jazz musician, invited her to her wedding. To be honest, our heroine had no intention of going to this wedding, not wanting to mingle with all these people she’d met through the Dutchman. But on the eve of the wedding the woman who was scheduled to be the wedding singer got laryngitis and asked our heroine if she could take her place as the singer. She’d never sung at a wedding before, but asked herself, “How hard could it be?” and agreed to sing a song or two.
She spotted him as soon as she got there. The wedding was an informal affair held in a living room, and this man with a camera – the wedding photographer, she guessed – was weaving his way through the people who were seated and waiting for the wedding. Everywhere he stopped to chat, people would start chuckling. She surmised he must have a sense of humor. And he had a great smile – the full-faced, crinkly-eyed kind.
She found herself instantly attracted to him.
The wedding began, the ceremony proceeded, she sang her song (a little nervously), and kept her eyes on the man with the camera.
After the ceremony she, who had until now always been the pursued rather than the pursuer, walked up to him and introduced herself. He blinked behind his glasses, probably surprised at her directness, and grinned down at her. “Scott,” he said, shaking her hand.
At the reception, held in a local community hall, they talked and got to know each other better. She asked him if he liked the mountains. He said yes. She asked him if he’d ever climbed any. Yes, he said, Mt. Baker. She mentally put a check by the “loves mountains” on the list of qualities she was looking for in a man. Their conversation continued. She learned he was a newspaper photographer and checked off the requirement for “stimulating, creative job.” She saw how he opened the kitchen door to help an elderly woman with her hands full. “Compassionate” was checked off her list.
He asked her if he could fetch her something to drink. She told him she’d really just like some water. He nodded his head. “Wadduh, it is,” he said.
“Wadduh?” she asked. “Are you from the east coast?”
“Connecticut,” he answered, grinning.
A year and a half later Scott got a call from Peggy. Our heroine answered the phone. She told Peggy that her husband wasn’t home right then, but could she take a message? When she heard the caller’s name she let her know her own. Peggy admitted she’d heard rumors that Scott and she had married. She was happy to have had a part in their meeting each other.
Scott and our heroine have been happily married for over twenty years now.
And our heroine realizes that she wouldn’t have been blest with her love if she hadn’t first met the jazz musician. From cursing to blessing. It’s all connected.