Another coincidence of mine involves a Mormon! The guy looking at the camera in the photo is Court Solen (sp?). In the course of hearing him talk about BYU to Erik the Dutch guy at the Young Adult retreat, we discovered that we were at BYU at the same time and even had a class together (Comparative Politics in the summer of 1998 term). Not only that...but he married the sister of an RLDS lady I had briefly dated in 1999.
Here's a little background info...
During my lonely isolation at BYU, I often prayed to God to send a fellow RLDS member to the university to become good friends with. And yes, I even asked for that person to be a lady. I was tired of pursuing LDS ladies when I knew it wouldn't go anywhere (unless they wanted to leave behind their church and join mine because I wasn't going to join theirs). Sometime in 1999, I wore a green bowtie to church and it happened to be a Sunday that a certain lady named Brooke Nelson was attending. She was just visiting and was in her last few weeks at Graceland College (the RLDS sponsored college). Her sister, Laia, was at BYU and had converted to the LDS Church (which Brooke wasn't too happy about). Anyhow, after she graduated, she moved to Utah (Salt Lake City) and we were able to get a Young Adult group started for Utah, which included a trip to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake and the fateful Las Vegas trip.
As we got to know one another, Brooke said that she had a very vivid dream in which she saw a man with green eyes and a green bow tie speaking to a group in an octogon-shaped room. Well, that was me. I had my green-coloured contact lens in that Sunday (I had usually wore my blue ones, because that's my favourite eye colour) and I rarely wore my bowtie. And I was giving an offertory or something that fateful Sunday in the octogon-shaped sanctuary at Orem congregation. She thought it was fate, that she was meant to move to Utah after graduation. I was happy to have a fellow RLDS member around my age and of the female variety. So, we went on a few dates. But there were a few things that happened which didn't sit well with me.
Once, while having lunch at her place, she had offered to give the prayer and started it by saying, "Dear Creator Goddess..." and I started laughing. I wasn't expecting that at all. We discussed it after she was done. Her response was, "I thought you were open minded." My response? "I thought I was too." As it turned out, she was quite a lot more liberal in her theology than I am. She was interested in Wicca and the idea of God being a Goddess. She was also in favour of changing the language of our hymns and prayers to be gender neutral. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but I tend to be a little bit more traditional, I suppose.
But, what really killed any possibility of a romantic relationship was our Young Adult trip to Las Vegas in October or November 1999. She and two other male church members in Salt Lake drove down to meet me at the Orem Congregation. We agreed to drive my car to Vegas, with me as the driver. Before we got started on our journey, she pulled out a waver form for all of us to sign, agreeing that we would not hold her or the church liable for anything that happened on the Las Vegas trip. I was shocked. Never before had a church member pulled that stunt on me (and not since, I might add). I made a huge stink about it and refused to sign. I even said that as the driver and the owner of the car, I was more liable than her for anything that might happen. But she wouldn't budge and refused to get in the car until I signed it. It was one of the few instances where I backed off and signed the damn paper just so we could get on down the road. But I was mad. After Las Vegas, I didn't want anything to do with her. She had invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her and some friends in Salt Lake, but I opted to spend it with Yudelka Castro, a Mormon lady from the Dominican Republic that I was very attracted to and would've loved to have a relationship with (she was supposed to be on the Washington Seminar the same semester as me but dropped out to take some grad level courses or something). I don't regret that decision.
Anyhow...it's funny about the coincidence involving Court Solen at last weekend's retreat. I was thinking recently about how no one has asked me to sign a consent/waver form in all the various cars I rode with fellow church members. Brooke is the only person who has ever done such a thing. It still pisses me off when I think about it. But, it made me realize that she's the one with the problem, not me or anyone else I've met. That's what I love about my church...the sense of automatic trust with one another. That we can let our guards down and not feel a need to protect ourselves from one another. And that's what made me so angry about Brooke's act. She violated that sense of trust among church members by even considering the possibility that something might happen that she needed protection from.
What's weird is that the first day of the retreat, I wore the green "Indian"-type shirt that Brooke bought for me. Perhaps it has her energy attached, in order to attract her sister to the retreat. Okay, so I don't really believe that...but it was odd that I decided to wear that shirt (which I rarely wear) and then I happen to meet her sister at the retreat. I had no idea where either of them are. All I knew is that Brooke and her sister grew up in Arizona and last I heard, Brooke was in Independence, MO.
So, it was a blessing from God to have such a neat coincidence. The retreat was the last place I expected to bump into a BYU classmate. Court and I figured out that we had the same Comparative Politics course in the summer 1998 term, with a visiting professor from North Carolina who didn't get a lot of respect. It was fun reliving all that with him. Gosh, I can't believe that was 9 years ago!
What does this coincidence mean? Probably nothing much. Just a reminder from God that I'm well connected within my church community and that I was truly meant to be at the retreat that weekend, instead of in Alaska, which is where I would still be had I taken that job on second offering. So, there is no doubt in my mind that not taking that job was the right decision. Something better is coming and I need to be ready for it. And the coincidence is a gift from God, as I shared with the fellow retreat participants. People may scoff at how small our church is, but I have these coincidences all the time in our church, so why would I ever want to leave it? I feel spiritually connected within the church in ways I don't feel in the workaday world. So, thank you God for that gift. It was very much needed at this time of my life.