Hello friends! I would have blogged sooner, but due to the developments of last weekend and the homework I have been catching up on in the meantime, I have been keeping rather busy. Friday will mark a week since I said yes to my (now) fiance Bill's proposal to marry him and spend life together. I have had many people ask me to post our engagement story, so here goes:
Last Friday, February 11th was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the patronesses of my relationship with Bill, and has been before we even began dating. Back when we first started expressing interest in each other as more than just friends, I entrusted our feelings and hearts to Our Lady on my way back to school (I was driving through South Bend, IN) at the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at the University of Notre Dame. I lit a candle in the grotto, and left it to her to do the rest. Since that point, she has not failed us in her constant intercession for Bill & me.
Bill told me that he would be "busy at the library" all day Friday with a daunting group project. I managed to convince him that we could at least pray the rosary at some point during the day...so he came up with praying at 7:30 am (my time), 8:30 am (his time). We don't normally talk that early, but no worries, we decided to go for it. So he, his roommate Bryan, and I prayed (I was on speaker phone) as he was in the car back from going to mass in Florida. We then said goodbye and I headed to class. What a sweet guy!
Little did I know...as I went to class, did homework, did some shopping, went to noon mass and did my daily activities, Bill was travelling across the country from FL all the way to my school in MN. I'll come back to this in a second.
Maria and I had a "Girl's Night" planned for the evening and a dinner reservation for 8 pm at a restaurant in a fun, trendy part of town. She had suggested that we use a gift certificate she had for dinner, nearly a month earlier, so I had put it on my calendar. So, I get home from my Interns meeting with my Catholic Studies Department and we both start getting ready for the evening. I try to dress nicely, put some make-up on, but I'm not suuuper fancy or anything. Just ready to have some fun! I even suggested that we maybe go see a movie at the theatre afterwards, Maria suggested that maybe we ought to rent one instead. Meghan, another fantastic friend of mine, had asked to borrow my car for the evening. She needed to go to "an orchestra concert" which is fairly common since she is a music major.
Anyways, Maria drives us to the restaurant since I did not have my car, and we get there in plenty of time. We walk from the parking lot to the restaurant, walk inside, and standing there, in plain view and dressed very handsomely is none other than my love Bill giving me a beaming smile. Right away, I am in shock. Why is he here? Is that really him? Wait, what is this? What's he doing here? But I go in for a hug and say his name.
At that point I look over at Maria, and say something to the extent of: "So this was all a set-up? Oh my gosh!"...and Maria wishes us a pleasant evening with a equally large smile as she has truly pulled off her part of the plan.
Bill & I had a spectacular dinner. He got mac & cheese and I got an unlimited Fish fry dinner. I am DEFINITELY going to have to come back here for Lent...it was fantastic. I hadn't seen Bill for a couple of weeks by then, and was just so happy to be able to hold his hand and catch up. We obviously talk often, but there are some things that are easier and even more fun to discuss in each other's company. I was nervous the whole dinner though...I knew tonight might be "the night" and I was really hoping that his plan was not to propose to me at the restaurant. He's a good man...that wasn't his plan at all, I should have just trusted, haha!
We finish dinner, and we walk to the parking garage where he has parked my car (remember Meghan borrowing the car, yeah that was a fib) and we drive back to St. Thomas. He asked me if I would like to take a walk. The temperature had gone up since earlier in the week, so with 30s weather, I said, "Sure, why not?". Although, I thought I needed a warmer coat and I needed to use the restroom. So I went to go use the restroom on campus, running into two friends, Megan and Logan, who both gave me hugs. They were waiting for a ride to their evening's activities. I went to go use the restroom and then joined Bill in the car again. He asked if I could perhaps wait and not get the warmer coat. I said that was fine.
So we parked on my street, and Bill and I went for a walk. He walked me behind the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas to the statue of Our Lady of Victory. From the distance, I could see there was a heart of candles that had been set up underneath Our Lady. I commented how beautiful they were, only then realizing that they had been placed there for us.
Bill asked if I would pray a "Hail Mary" with him, and so we did together. Then he reminded me of how much he loved me, knelt down on one knee and proposed to me in the snow, taking my breath away by the beauty of the ring he offered me and the vulnerability of that moment. I didn't keep him in suspense too long as I said "Yes" in a confident, but slightly nervous, excited voice! We hugged and kissed and thanked Mary for bringing us both to this point in our relationship. Bill and I want to continue to place Christ at the center of our lives together, and imitate the love that Our Lord has for each one of us. It is only through this love that we can share in the joys of Christ. So, we couldn't think of a better way to thank Jesus for our evening than by honoring His Mother.
We walked back to my place where Maria and Meghan were waiting for us with champagne and appetizers (and balloons!). The festivities continued the next day with an engagement party with even more friends with a full dinner.
We both want to thank everyone for the encouragement and prayers that we have been receiving this past week and the many, many hugs and "Can I see your ring?"s (Well mostly I'm asked that, not Bill...haha) from all of our friends.
Bill and I plan to marry in the Fall of 2012, although we are not sure about the particular date as of now. I am just so humbled by the way that this proposal was a way in which Bill showed his vulnerability to me (aka proposing a life together in the most perfect way), so I want to reflect for a minute on vulnerability.
I want to end with a quote from C.S. Lewis:
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredemable." -C.S. Lewis
Love requires vulnerability. Friendships require it, relationships require it, our faith requires it. Vulnerability reminds us that we are humans, God is God, so we must surrender our hearts and our lives which are not our own. Leave me comments about a time in your life that you loved so much it hurt, loved so much it left you vulnerable. Whether it turned out well or poorly, what does this love seem to point towards?