Friday, December 4, 2009

The shortest distance

Due to the extreme generosity of his parents, I was able to borrow the Cobbler for Thanksgiving (his mother commented on Facebook that it was the first Thanksgiving ever he hadn't been with his family) and my family took him with us to northern Virginia, where my aunt lives. He got to meet about half of my crazy relatives on that side, and oddly still wants to marry me. Meanwhile, they all found him utterly charming.

There were actually a grand total of 41 people at my aunt's house, from my grandmother (who is dignifiedly ageless) to my cousin's two-month-old baby. Most of them I didn't even know. Apparently they go to my aunt's church or something. The Cobbler ended up striking up a conversation with one of my uncle's friends. Example of how the Cobbler was charming: despite being naturally shy and particularly disoriented, he ended up pretty much being this guy's New Best Friend. They talked about everything from Non-Euclidean Geometry As A Metaphor For Life to Baseball Players Are So Overpaid, Seriously.

And something that stuck with me was that fundamental principle of non-Euclidean geometry which states that the shortest distance between two points isn't always a straight line.

This collided in my brain with a post written by Patrick Madrid over at Faith and Family Live that generated a lot of blog chatter. Now, I'm dating a Catholic, and that was no accident, but at the same time... If there were no Protestant/Catholic marriages in the world most of my family members would not exist. In fact, I'm pretty sure neither of my parents would exist.

And I would not exist. When my parents met, down at Fort Sam Houston, my mom had ROMAN CATH on her dog tags (she still has those, in her jewelry box) and my dad had some military abbreviation of "Nondenominational Protestant." (How do you abbreviate that? NON PROT seems rather the reverse of what's intended. Dad will have to comment and let us know.) Of course, my mom will be the first to tell you that her understanding of Catholicism when she was 19 and my understanding of Catholicism when I was 19 were rather radically different. (Random interesting side note: I am now older than my mother was when she married my father.)

I've wanted my dad to be Catholic since I was old enough to understand the difference. (I think I was about 8 or 9 when I figured out that "Christian" and "Catholic" were not interchangeable.) And when I was 14 I finally got to experience what it was like to have two devoutly Catholic parents. And I will be the first to tell you that my baby sister is going to have a lot of things I wish I had when I was her age, and I don't mean all the cool new toys they've come up with in the last 17 years. (She deserves it, though. She had to play the parent lotto twice before she struck it rich.)

But I wouldn't wish my older sister and I unborn for anything. And I don't think our mother would either, even though she's said that I better not go marrying Protestants when I'm 19. (One of those qualifications is already impossible, and the other highly improbable.)

Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line. God took a couple of young enlisteds who got married under what just about anybody would call highly imprudent circumstances, and He gave them a rock-solid marriage that's 23 years and going strong, with 3 daughters whom I hope are worth all the trouble we cause, and both of them Catholic to the core.

And now He's taking a couple of unabashedly Catholic college students and doing something with them. I am not going to say that just because the Cobbler and I are Catholic our relationship is perfect. (Really, sometimes my friends imply that and it always takes me aback a bit. We've got a pretty good thing going but please don't canonize us till we're dead.) There are going to be plenty of meanderings between that Point A of being 18 and newly in love and knowing everything and the Point B of wherever He wants to take us.

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