She smiled, her marvelous smile, but didn’t say the word, my word, the one word I wanted to hear. She didn’t whisper or mouth the word, the word I so desperately desired.
I was on my right knee, holding her hands, looking up, wantonly, into her eyes. Her back against the open door of her classroom at Emery Elementary School. On the door was a poster of a tree with her students’ faces and the words, “God’s Garden.”
“When you get home we need to talk,” she said.
“Talk? What do we need to talk about…you sound….”
“I can’t tell you over the phone.”
“Can’t or won’t? Please, I love you, you can tell….”
“Yes, tell me now; I won’t let you go until you do.”
“I can’t marry you.”
“She said I would turn you away from our Lord.”
“Cathy. She called me when she heard we were engaged. Wanted to meet for lunch, so we did. She said that since I am divorced I would be sinning if I married you.
“She quoted Matthew 5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife . . . makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“I… I didn’t know how to respond. She was so emphatic and I… I was crushed. A sharp pain in my heart, doubt in my mind.”
“Yes, adultery. I don’t want to hurt you honey… I don’t want you to turn from our God. You have come so far since we met.”
“But I love you, I don’t…”
“You must…we can be friends, just not….”
“You said ‘yes’ and I know you love me and I love you…. Ok, ok, we can talk more on Friday when I get home. Should be there about seven. Can I take you out to dinner?”
“Oh…oh, yes, we can talk then. I am so sorry. I do love you and I don’t want to hurt….”
“Keep good thoughts. We will overcome this….”
“I love you. Bye.”
A week earlier we announced our engagement to an audience of about twenty of our square dance friends. I read a poem about her, handed her a red rose, kneeled on my right knee and proposed. She knew ahead of time but she smiled, her marvelous smile, yet teared up and softly, ever so softly, said ‘yes.’ I know my audience and they were—well, swell.
The terror of adultery and sinning and accusations had died down, not resolved but put to rest of sort. Three or four pastors assured her she would not be an adulteress— I would not be committing adultery. We were not sinning. “Read in context,” they said. Pastor Judi held her hand, prayed with her—then married us, introducing us to our world.
A close call. My love, my future hung in the balance.
A few days after my first proposal I picked her up for church. Anxious and disappointed and frustrated all rolled into one I was yet—on her front door was a note: ‘yes, yes I will marry you.’
Whew! It was a close call.