In the end, Priscilla didn’t have to wait long. We started making plans for her to live and work in the Boston area so she could be near me while I was in seminary. I quickly realized that I wanted her to have the security of my promise to marry her if she were going to move to a different country for my sake, and not just have her come as my girlfriend.
So even though it was different from what I’d expected to do, we began to pursue an engagement right away, with a view towards getting married while I was in seminary. We felt strongly that we should have the blessing of both sets of our parents. I’d talk to my parents first when I got home, and if they approved, I’d ask Priscilla’s parents for their blessing.
In the meantime we had someone else we could consult. The gracious older woman who’d answered the phone when I’d called the camp at the start of my first summer was named Mrs. Bard. She was the widow of one of Bethel’s former directors and still lived on the school’s campus. She was known for her sensitivity to God’s leading and had become like a spiritual grandmother to Priscilla. “If it’s okay with Mrs. Bard,” we said, only half jokingly, “it’s probably okay with God.” (The reverse was actually closer to the truth.)
So we sought her out one day and explained our situation. “I thought something like that was going on,” she said, “because whenever I looked out my window” (she was housebound at this point), “I either saw you together, or one of you looking for the other.” “Now I’m not saying I’ve heard anything about this from the Lord yet,” she continued, “but . . .” And then she held up a hand in the air, her fingers making the “OK” sign.
Around this same time, we went with some of the other camp staff on an excursion to check out a possible day hike for the campers. The route led partway up a small mountain. On the way back down, we came to a clearing and had an unobstructed view of the entire valley spreading out below us. At that very moment, the sun broke from behind us through the rain clouds that had hovered low in the sky all day. As a result, a gorgeous double rainbow formed in the valley. We could see the entire arc. It filled our field of vision. And then a large flock of white birds flew across the bow from one side to the other, their wings glistening golden in the sunlight. It hardly seemed as if we were still in the real world. It was more like being transported into the movie Yellow Submarine.
I noticed something very interesting about the double rainbow. The colors in the top half were in the reverse order of those in the bottom half. Suddenly something “clicked” for me. I realized that if the top rainbow had simply duplicated the bottom one, that would be more of a good thing. But since it complemented it, together they formed an even better thing.
I explained earlier that I’d been looking for someone “just like me” as a wife. Now I realized what a bad idea that had been. We would have needlessly duplicated our strengths, without being able to cover one another’s weaknesses. I no longer saw Priscilla and myself as different or opposite. I understood that we were complementary. This resolved the last remaining question—not hesitation, but question—I’d had about marrying her.
Since we were now officially dating, during my extra week in Canada we went on what turned out to be our one and only date as boyfriend and girlfriend. We drove into Montreal and toured the grounds of the Olympic stadium and the adjoining botanical gardens. We had supper together before driving back to Sherbrooke. Fittingly, this was at a McDonald’s.
When I returned to Connecticut, my parents picked me up at the bus station. I blurted out my news on the way home. “I wondered whether something like this was happening when you stayed longer,” my mother said. She and my father immediately and happily gave their blessing.
Once we got home, I shared the news with my siblings as well. When I told one of my brothers, he responded, “I thought you were going out with Anne.” But then he very encouragingly shared something that had happened on the second day of the graduation. Our grandfather had taken him aside and asked, “Are Chris and Priscilla dating?” “No,” he’d replied, “they’re just friends.” “That’s too bad,” my grandfather said, “because she seems like a very fine young lady.”
Priscilla’s family was by now camping at Sacandaga and I couldn’t reach her parents by phone, as I would have tried to do otherwise. So I wrote them a letter and waited for their answer.
That Sunday, during the sharing time at our church, I related the developments in our lives and asked for prayer for guidance and direction. My father said how happy he was for us and how much he was looking forward to welcoming Priscilla into the family. After the service, a longtime friend told me that when she first saw me walk into the church that morning, she said to herself, “He’s getting married,” though she knew nothing of what had transpired during my weeks away.
On August 13, 1980, I received a letter from Priscilla’s father in which he wrote, “I would be happy and proud to have you as a son-in-law.” That evening I phoned Priscilla. (She had stayed in Sherbrooke so we could remain in communication.) “I have something to ask you,” I told her. “I’m sitting down,” she said. “Should I kneel?” I asked. “Of course!” she replied. And so it was that, after dating for nine days, we got engaged.