It was about 8:30 when housechurch ended. The regular socialization filled the house. Robin, my roomate, ventured off into the kitchen to do the dishes, or “the family chores” as could also be the reference. I was tired from a long weekend of serving at a Crosswalk retreat. My feet hurt, my head was beginning to hurt, and fatigue was beginning to control my ability to keep from complaining. But how could I let Robin do the dishes alone?
Once the last forks and knives were dried and in their place, I gathered my things, bid my fairwells and found myself driving down the brick road toward a new friend’s house. It’s late, but a promise is a promise, I thought with Jamie’s black pocka-dot jacket drapped over my arm. Besides, now that I have this jacket to return, I have to go.
I stood outside of an unkown area of life. How nice it will be to be in this adventure, I thought as my eyes examined Jamie’s newly-wed house. With the ring of a doorbell a “puppy” met me at the door. “Come on in,” Jamie invited me as she dragged the two foot tall boxer puppy from ‘welcoming’ me. I exchanged Jamie’s forgotten coat for an envelope and a few pleasant words. Soon I found myself back outside ten minutes later.
The drive home was dark, but enjoyable. How strange it is to be between life’s stages, I thought. I am too old and ‘away’ from college, I reflected on my ‘off-campus’ living status, yet I am still in college. I suddenly felt old again, as has been a typical feeling this Senior year of college.
My fingers fumbled a familiar tool in my pocket. With the press of the nine button a ringing tickled my right eardrum. I hung up and redialed. When the same answer machine picked up again I began to wonder, why isn’t Robin answering her phone.
I pulled into the parking lot. No blue Cavalier. I dialed again. This time she answered.
“Hey! Where are you?” Came my concern. You should have been home by now, went my unspoken thoughts.
“I went to go get some deoderant. Where are you?” Came the response.
“In the parking lot. Did you leave the bathroom light on?” My thoughts outpoured as I caught glimpse of our apartment.
“No, didn’t you?” Robin questioned.
“No. I always check to see that the lights are off before I go.” Erupted my certainty as I rechecked the statement for validity in my mind. Did I leave the bathroom light on this time? Had I made that mistake? When no answer was found I spoke again.
“There are changes of light (I struggled to describe what I saw) coming from the kitchen window. Could the cats have turned the TV on?”
“I wouldn’t put it past them. They love that turtle.” Came Robin’s quicker-than-usual response as she referenced to the stuffed turtle on our TV stand.
I was quiet as my mind pondered the chances of a stranger being found in our household. Could we be getting robbed at this very minute? I wondered. Or could someone have mistakenly entered our apartment? Did the office give out the wrong key? Explanations flooded my mind as I unclicked my seatbelt and gathered my things.
“Did you need me to talk to you as you go in?” The question broke through my thoughts.
“I don’t know.” Came my puzzled response as I neared the outside apartment door. All the while as I was walking, I became more and more aware of my surroundings, wondering if I would need to know an escape route any time soon.
With one foot pivated toward the escape, I put my key in the kitchen doorhandle. My heart raced and peace began to ease my mind as I felt the familiar resistance of a locked door.
I creaked the door open to reveal votive candles, two white roses and a teddy bear on the counter. I hung up the phone.
Through the kitchen I walked, still bewildered by the awe of the candles. And then suddenly I seemed to have stepped into a dream of candlelight. I hurried to my bedroom to put down my things, looking solely at the floor. I knew he was there, but I didn’t want to be carrying things when he found my eyes. I re-entered the room, thrilled that it wasn’t a dream. This was real. The warmth of the candlelight streaming from a roomfull of votives, the bouquet of white roses on the coffee table, the Word opened with a white rose in it… I was overwhelmed. But it was an overwhelmingly wonderful feeling.
“Hey.” My voice cut the darkness
“Hey there.” Matthew’s voice resounded through my heart.
And then it flooded out of me as if reality once again consumed my thoughts, “I was out in the parkinglot sitting in my car, you scared me, cause I saw the bathroom light on, and I called Robin, and then the light coming from the kitchen window…
“Man, I tried so hard to be secretive.” He explained during my rambling.
I cut off my explanation to hear him.
“I put the cats in the bathroom cause I didn’t want them to eat the flowers or catch on fire, and then I couldn’t leave them in the dark…” He trailed off explaining himself. “And I couldn’t control the light coming from the blinds, but I tried so hard, I parked in the next lot over so you wouldn’t recognize my sister’s car…”
Silence filled the room again.
“Would you like to dance?” His words asked my heart.
“There’s no music cause I didn’t think it was cool to break onto your computer and all…” He explained.
“I can’t dance.” Came my feeble confession.
“It’s okay, me neither.” He admitted. “But you just hug me and sway a bit.” He explained as he guided me to an open spot in front of the coffee table.
After a few moments of hug-swaying, I spoke, “Your heart is racing. What are you up to?”
“Well…” He guided me over to the couch to sit.
“Did you notice the color of the flowers?” He asked when we were sitting.
“Yep… about a month into dating you, you told me never to get you white flowers because they meant engagment and marriage to you.” He explained.
“Yeah.. and purity too…” I mumbled recalling the conversation with him.
“Well… and… about a month ago you wrote me a note telling me how you didn’t know why I chose to be with you when there are so many other good girls out there. So I wanted to respond to that now.”
He took my hand and guided me back over to the ‘dance floor’ we had just came from.
And then from down on one knee he said, “Monica Elvy, will you marry me?”
“Yes” broke from my lips with no hesitation.
“Really?” Came his surprise.
“Yes.” My heart repeated again.
And after a big hug, Matt’s excitement pierced through the room, “Good! Now I have to call my parents and call Robin so she can come home from driving around.”
So, that’s it folks…
Matthew Stauufer and I are engaged.
And I couldn’t be more excited.
I can’t wait to serve our God with him
… for the rest of our lives.