With the coming of February and Valentine’s Day, I have to admit that I’m an incurable romantic. I even like “chick flicks”, and have watched “The Notebook” more times than I’m comfortable admitting. So this month, I want to tell you a true love story.

During World War II, one way that Americans supported the armed forces serving in distant lands was to send them books. One GI received a used book from a woman in the States. As he read the book, he was fascinated by the notes she had left in the margins. Since her name and address were printed inside the cover, the soldier began to write to the unknown woman, and she answered his letters.

As this unlikely correspondence went on, the two fell in love. She would not send a photo of herself; she said, “If I’m too plain, I’m afraid you wouldn’t love me. If I’m beautiful, I would fear that you would love me for the wrong reasons.” But he was taken by her letters and her spirit, and loved her deeply.

The two agreed that when the soldier came home, they would meet on a certain platform at Grand Central Station in New York. He would be in uniform and would carry the book. She would wear a red carnation. “If once you see me,” she wrote, “and you don’t want to go further in this relationship, just walk on by. If you want to talk, we’ll go for coffee.”

The day finally came, and the soldier nervously walked down the assigned platform. As he scanned the crowd, a beautiful blonde woman breezed by him. As she passed, she said, “Going my way, soldier?” He almost stopped and turned around; but he had a promise to keep, so he kept on walking.

Then he saw her. She was old enough to be his mother, and she was wearing an old coat, but on the coat was a red carnation. He was disappointed, but shook her hand and smiled and said, “There’s a little coffee shop across the street. Would you like to go with me?” To this, the older woman replied, “Sonny, I don’t know what this is all about, but the woman that just passed you gave me this carnation. She said that if you invited me for coffee, I was to tell you that she’s at the coffee shop across the street, waiting for you.”

On this month of Valentine’s Day, I find myself thinking about the convoluted and mysterious routes by which people find each other — of all the little decisions that, if we hadn’t made them, we might not have ever known each other. Taking this street instead of that one, moving to that city, going to that party — all are part of the tapestry of love.

Paul uses an interesting word in his letter to the Philippians. It is translated “work”, as in God’s working in our lives, but the Greek word is the root of our word, “choreography”. What a concept! God is the grand Choreographer of our days, working behind the scenes. Sometimes the only way we can see the grand Choreographer at work is in retrospect, sifting through all the little things that formed and shaped the drama of our lives. 

This Valentine’s Day, I think I’ll tell the love of my life that I’m glad the Choreographer brought us together, and guides us still.

Blair Monie is senior pastor of the Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church (phpc.org). The Worship section is a regular feature underwritten by Advocate Publishing and the churches listed on these pages. For information about helping support the Worship section, call 214.560.4202.


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