on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

The Art of Surprise

This is the thirteenth in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

“He Said” by Malcolm Marler

Wedding Day, July 4, 2004; L to R Kiki, Mary, Malcolm, Brendan, and Sarah Shelton. Photograph by friend Judy Bridgers.

A friend of mine and Mary’s who works at UAB called last Friday and said, “I’ve never seen the Pastoral Care department at the hospital, and since I’ve been asked to lead some continuing education sessions for your Residents, can I come by soon to look at the layout so I’ll know what to expect?”

“Sure,” I said, “when would you like to come?”

“How about this coming Monday, July 4th? Are you working at the hospital on the day that everyone else takes off?” she said innocently.  “I sure am, I’ll be here.”

“Great, me too, how about 10:30?”  she suggested.  “That will work, I will see you then,” as I typed it into my calendar.

At 10:30 a.m. this morning, I was listening for the door to our department to open and I got up to see if it was our friend who had come to get the 5 minute tour.

To my surprise, there stood Mary Bea, looking as beautiful as the first day I met her.  “I hope you aren’t disappointed, but actually I am your 10:30 appointment.  I’ve come to kidnap you for an early lunch,” as she grinned from ear to ear.

I had been set up, and I loved the opportunity to have a surprise lunch with my bride!

Mary drove me to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens where we stood seven years ago in the Rose Garden and said our vows to one another.

I promise to love you with an open heart, to listen deeply to your innermost thoughts, and to be considerate and tender in my care of you. With God’s help, I vow to continue to be your best friend, to encourage your spiritual growth, and to walk with you in times of joy and sorrow, as long as we both shall live. Amen.

We repeated our vow to one another, had a yummy picnic lunch, and remembered why we are still in love.

There have been a lot of surprises in our lives over the past seven years.  It is one of the things I love most about being married to Mary Bea Sullivan.  There are no dull moments, thank God.

I would have never guessed that Mary would be going to seminary in seven years to become an Episcopal priest. And yet knowing her now, it seems like a natural step.

And as we look forward to this next adventure,  I can’t wait to see how we will be surprised again.

How about you?

How have you been surprised in life?  How has the element of surprise worked out for you?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

1 Comment

  1. Mike

    Malcolm I didn’t know thats where you were married. Daddy performed his last wedding there.It was Susan Coker. I do enjoy your blogs so much

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