On the Sunday before school started R and I went to the Meeting (the Quaker equivalent of a church) that I have been regularly attending for 8 years, though I’ve let it slide when I’m stressed out (and, therefore, need it the most). The Meeting I attend is “unprogrammed” which means that it follows the original Quaker practice of having silent worship where everyone sits quietly in contemplative worship and people stand to give witness if they feel moved to. Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, is now a diverse group and some have moved to more “church-y” worship services and continued evangelical theology, but my Meeting is on the other end – a very liberal, open meeting with no minister, no sermons, and complete equality and responsibility on the part of every member.
So at the end of Meeting, it is a tradition (oops, Quakers aren’t supposed to have traditions) for us to go around the room (the chairs are set up in a double rectangle around the room facing inward) and say our names as well as any other announcements. Halfway through worship R nudged me and made me exchange seats with him, and I didn’t understand why until the announcements reached him. He was now first, so he first told everyone how nervous I was about beginning school and how I needed a lot of encouragement and support. He then said “Also, with apologies to Louis Armstrong…” and began proposing to me! Even though I had been calling him my fiance to people at school with his permission (because I felt “boyfriend” sounded too young to say to my students) we were not yet technically engaged, though we talked about getting married all the time. I had told him I wanted a memorable proposal, and it was! He sang my favorite song, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and changed some of the words to reflect our own private little jokes, ending with “Will you marry me?” I said yes, everyone clapped, and the rest of the day we spent celebrating instead of hyperventilating! So if someone you love is worrying about starting a new career, here’s my suggestion: propose. With song.