January 17, 2006

17: Evensong

I didn’t expect a life-changing moment when I followed Dan’s group out the back of the Wycliffe property to evensong at Christ Church Cathedral Sunday night after our initial group meeting. (The meeting proved to be good in spite of having to sustain some painful small talk, and I distinctly perceived a certain someone casting a glance or two in my direction.) There were three or four other church groups that night—some conservative churches, some more charismatic. All it took was the words ‘cathedral’ and ‘evensong’ and I knew where I was going.

Someone said there were a couple guys from D.C. in the group, and I thought they would be good to talk to, acquaintances maybe, at least until I had a chance to meet the dashing guy with the big suitcase I’d bumped into on the stairs.

I found out that Simon is a writer, and that Jack is in a masters program in D.C. that I’ve looked at several times—a masters in the classics, the program my friend Lilian did years ago. And looking back it seems that we were instant friends, Jack and I, although I didn’t realize it on that walk to Christchurch Cathedral Sunday evening, didn’t give it two thoughts.

It seems that love is often like this. We are occupied elsewhere, we evaluate the situation and think that Love will not make an entrance here, so we move on. And the next time we turn around, we are surprised to find her well established, warming herself by the fire. (Yet, even in the midst of our surprise, it seems that we knew all along that this is how it would be.)

I think Eleanor genuinely expected nothing of Fanny’s brother Edward, and could only admit that she liked him, when really her heart was engaged. She didn’t understand fully until she knew the situation to be impossible. And then there’s Marianne, insisting on flashy Willoughby, only to be surprised later at her serious and steadfast returning of Colonel Brandon’s love. And, of course, Elizabeth and Darcy, who fell in love in spite of themselves and their very bad First Impressions (which was Jane’s original title for Pride and Prejudice).

And such was my experience in Oxford. I was busy elsewhere, unaware that Love was doing some deft matchmaking behind my back.


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