Loving Sam Was Counter-Culture

I was over the moon. My beautiful new, too expensive, dress was hanging on the door frame. Sam finally asked me out!

We drove into the Cathedral parking lot. “Come on,” he said. Sounds of laughter floated up the stairwell. Sam opened the door and I found myself smack in the middle of a Soup Kitchen! “Hi Sam, is that your lady friend?” I was stunned. “Come on, Pat,” we’re the servers today.”

As I began to know this man I learned a new vocabulary of love. Bringing wild flowers instead of roses, going to free concerts instead of the Schermerhorn, giving one another TIME for birthdays was an adventure of love. One Christmas walking in the woods and he gave me a whole tree filled with mistletoe. We dangled our feet in the lake and as we prayed Compline. We read Hildegarde of Bingen, Theresa of Avila and Francis of Assissi and Benedict.

Through Sam I fell in love with Mystery. I think this is the way God loves us – simply but profoundly. Sam shared as a child he believed Christianity was like the sun and all the planets revolved around it. As he grew, he changed. Mystery is the sun, and Christianity is one of many planets held in orbit. We talked about Buddhism and Hinduism and Taoism.

This man I loved more than life surprised me on the Feast of St. Scholastica, “Would you be my partner as a Seeker?” He placed a cigar band on my ring finger and a Benedictine medal around my neck. No diamonds for my hand, no pearls for my neck. This man coaxed my love for Mystery out of my soul and twined with his.

I became a widow before I could become a bride. Sam died unexpectedly two months before we would be married. Sam promised me he’d never leave me. I believe him.

Text and photo: Pat Pickett, OblSB