Learning to Love in Greek
My name is Anthony, and I am in love. I love peanut butter. I eat it every day, and it makes me happy. I also love my fiancée, Sara. I talk to her every day and that makes me very happy. Does it seem strange that I can use the same word to describe my relationship with peanut butter as well as my relationship with my bride-to-be? It should. There are two totally different meanings portrayed by the same English word. If I was writing in Sanskrit, I would be able to choose from 96 different words for love, but that would make my brain hurt.
The name of our blog is based on a Greek word for love – Agape – which represents a very different kind of love: the kind of love that wills the good of another. Sara and I are slowly learning what it means to truly love each other in this special way. Through this blog, we would like to share what we are leaning.
Now, every good love story has a “meet cute,” that moment in a romantic film when the couple meets each other for the first time. Ours took place in church (which was the last place Sara ever expected to meet her future husband, but that’s a story for another day). More specifically, it took place at 6 p.m. on August 31, 2012 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
Sara’s Side of the Story:
Hi, I’m Sara. It’s important to know right off the bat that I am an extrovert.
On a Friday evening in late August 2012, I found myself at a 5:15 p.m. Mass at the Shrine before going over to a friend’s home to share a meal and catch up after a long summer away from D.C.
I arrived a few minutes before Mass began and was sitting in the sanctuary, minding my own business, when I noticed a very cute young man sitting in the row behind me to my left. I tried to keep my staring discreet, but there’s really no good way to do that. Instead, I commenced with the not at all awkward ‘try-not-to-look-like-I’m-looking-while-still-looking’ game until the first hymn was announced. After that, I only caught glances between readings, and of course did a full-on smile at the sign of peace. Luckily, the huge brown eyes that I would later fall in love with were glancing right back at me.
After a Mass-length’s worth of not-so-covert eye contact, I thought that surely this guy would come up and break the ice after Mass.
I left the church only to see him walking toward the exit with his friend.
Now, I’m an extrovert and have no trouble whatsoever striking up a conversation with a complete stranger. But, when faced with this particular stranger I was suddenly unable to even think in complete sentences, and felt a strong urge to hide behind one of the many statues of North American saints that adorn the foyer of the Shrine’s crypt church.
Now, here is the interesting part: despite my uncharacteristic bout of social paralysis, I had a gut feeling that I needed to talk to this guy.
I tried to shrug it off, but the conviction persisted: “You need to talk to this guy!”
So, I started walking toward him.
Then came the practical, and at this point, very panicked, voice in my head: “What exactly is your plan here?”
Still walking, only now he caught sight of me walking toward him; I was committed.
So there we were, staring at each other, and the only thing I could think to say was: “Do you know what time the Shrine closes?”
The funny thing is, I knew exactly what time the Shrine closed, and he didn’t even tell me the right time. But it got a conversation going. And, being an extrovert, I know exactly how to handle those.
Anthony’s Side of the Story:
I like Sara’s side of the story, but I do want to add a bit.
The night I first saw Sara, I was meeting up with a close college friend who was visiting from out of town. It was after confession and just before Mass when I looked to my right and saw Sara. I couldn’t stop looking at her, she was so beautiful. I was shocked to notice that she also kept looking at me!
When Mass was over, I wasn’t sure if I should go talk to her. Church is where a woman should feel safe to pray, not where you get hit on by strange men. Besides, I was there with my friend.
As we made our way to the door, though, I was extremely surprised when this same beautiful woman came up to me and asked if I knew when the Shrine closed. I thought I knew from my days at Catholic University, but apparently I told her the wrong time. I maintain that it must have changed.
Anyway, during the resulting conversation Sara revealed that she spent enough time in the Shrine that she must have known when it closed and may have just been looking for an excuse to start a conversation. When Sara subtly hinted that she had to leave and that I should ask for her number, my friend saved the day and gave me the not-so-subtle hint that I needed: “Ask for her number, Anthony.”
Fast forward to July 2013 and Anthony is on his knee in front of the U.S. Capitol asking for my hand in marriage – another great story that will have to wait for now. You can imagine that a lot happened in those eleven months, and even more since the engagement itself.
This blog is about that journey and the journey we’ll make to the altar together in July 2014. We are so excited to share this with you. Welcome to the School of Agape!