My husband, JJ, and I met in a choir called the Lutheran Chorale of Milwaukee. I was a Junior at WLC, and he was in his first year of seminary in Mequon. I sang soprano, JJ sang bass, and basses sat right behind sopranos, so we were able to sit near each other and be obnoxious throughout rehearsals as we chatted and flirted with each other. It was fun, but there were likely many moments when we were annoying to the other people in the choir. Oh, well. 🙂
The Chorale performs two concerts a year, one on the first Sunday of Advent, and one sometime in spring. The church season of Advent is made up of the four Sundays before Christmas, and the first Sunday usually falls the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That was the case thirteen years ago, as JJ and I sang in our first Chorale concert together. (I had sung in Chorale the year prior, and JJ was returning to the Chorale after a two-year hiatus while he attended college in New Ulm, MN.) Well, that particular concert on the first Sunday of Advent in November 1997 was a turning point in our lives. It marked the first time that both he and I thought that our relationship might have a real future.
We first realized that our relationship had potential after the big Friday night rehearsal before the concerts, as he and I stood in the parking lot of the church where we had rehearsed. Despite the late hour and the chilly weather, we conversed for over an hour about serious topics which we had rarely spoke about to other people. We each found a willing and sympathetic listener in the other, and we felt we had really connected with the other.
The day of the concerts came; they were at 3pm and 7pm. I had been chosen to sing a solo, something from a Bach cantata that began “Open wide my heart thy portal…” Our parents both came to the concerts. My parents came to the afternoon concert. By chance, I met JJ’s mother in the bathroom before the evening concert. She was made some joke about her wig to me as she adjusted it, and I was taken aback and wasn’t sure what to say in response. I was even more shocked after the concert to have JJ introduce me to his mother — it was the wig lady! 🙂 Later, I told JJ about that incident, and he said with a chuckle, “That sounds like something my mother would do!”
Most importantly, I remember that JJ drove me home after the afterglow party that followed the second concert. We stood outside my college apartment and gave each other a lingering hug. When he finally drove off, I immediately went to the phone and called my parents, telling them, “I’m going to marry a pastor!”
And, two and a half years later, I did. 🙂
Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent, and JJ and I always remember the day to each other. This year, for the first time in a long time, we dug out the cassette tape of the concert that we sang that November of 1997, dug out a cassette tape player (!), and played it. It’s been quite a blast from the past to hear these old songs and the memories that go with them.
I’ll always be grateful to the Lutheran Chorale of Milwaukee for being the means that brought JJ and I together.