Or, in the words of the great Molly Reel/Jessica Rohrig Costa Rica Spring Break Study Abroad theme: Porque no?
About a week-ish prior to April 29, 2008, my favorite student from my student teaching experience sent me a Facebook chat: was I interested in coming to his graduation party?
Um...sure! Why not?
He was graduating from Iowa State now and a member of the Alpha Gamma Ro fraternity. The brothers were having their graduation party at Outlaws, the country bar of Ames. I knew a couple of the guys from student teaching, and it's true - they were my favorites.
Only I had never been to a college graduation party. Really. For whatever reason, I had never been to one when I was an undergrad...and hadn't since. Besides wanting to see Matt Ramaeker, I was excited to go spend some time with my brother's girlfriend, Jessica. (Yes, there are 2 Jessicas in this story and also 2 Matts. Try to keep up.) In fact, knowing that I could go with Jessica and that she was a popular person made me feel comfortable with going to my first graduation party, first fraternity graduation party - as a 28-year-old.
As the days came closer, it became clear that another reason for attending the party was that I could finally meet this guy that Jessica wanted to set me up with. This friend of my brother's had befriended me on Facebook a few months earlier, and since that point, he became the go-to "well, we could see what this guy is up to tonight" if ever I lamented my singleness. A bit exasperated with the teasing, I reached the, "I haven't even met the guy!" point - and we decided this party could be the opportune time. Kyle was a fraternity brother, a first-year grad student, and would no doubt be at the party.
Great. Let's finally get this over with.
The night of the party, Jessica contacted me to find out if I really wanted to go. "Yes!"
She had started to come down with a bit of a cold...but was willing to go if I really wanted. I said, "Yes!" and compromised with a "we can go early and leave early - so you won't be out late - plus I have a campus visit tomorrow, so I can't be out late anyway." After all, I was 28 and had a real job now for 5 years.
I conveniently lived within walking distance of Outlaws and the two Jessicas set out. As we neared Outlaws, Jessica turned to me and asked if I had the invites.
Yeah, we need invites to get it.
Well, Matt invited me.
But, do you have invites?
...no...it'll be fine, I said with this air of confidence that had I possessed 7 years earlier this wouldn't have been my first college-graduation party.
We walked right up to those "bouncers" who checked IDs and asked for our invites, and I smiled and said, "We don't have invites, but Matt Ramaeker invited me. I'm his former teacher," and we just walked on by. Jedi-mind trick complete.
The first "Fiat" of this story has been locked into place. Eternal thanks to Jessica for being willing to go out on a Tuesday night with a bit of a cold and to Matt Ramaeker for that invitation, and thinking me cool enough to keep me updated on his life.
Since we were early, the party hadn't really gotten into full swing - which may have helped that Jedi-mind trick thing. Matt was nowhere to be seen, so now is where Jessica as wing-woman became helpful because girl knew people. I got to stand around near her and jump into conversation.
Cue Dan Kiesling's entrance.
About 10 pm, a guy walks up to Jessica (not me) and starts chatting. This Jessica (me) listens and chimes in with a clever anecdote. Dan Kiesling turns to me, initiates a handshake, and says, "I'm sorry; have we met?"
Only in one of your better dreams.
No, I obviously didn't say that - girlfriend is not that clever. I introduced myself - Dan discovered I was Matt Rohrig's sister - then that I was Matt Rohrig's older sister - and then kept pressing to discover when I graduated high school (like I wasn't already conscious of being 6 years older than most of these "kids") - and when I finally admitted my age ("her ladyship can hardly expect me to own it what with three younger sisters all out in society") - he responded with, "I graduated in 2000! You're 28! I'm 26."
Oh. Someone my age. Okay...
The rest, as they say, is history.
Dan had come to the party that night with the friend Jessica had wanted me to meet. I never met him that night. When we learned that Dan had come with Kyle, Jessica suggested that Dan go get him and bring him over. Dan, not one to share the spotlight, or lose the chance to stop talking with this girl with a pretty smile (me), said, "If you want to talk to him, go get him!" (SO Dan)
Ten years ago tonight. Ten years ago tonight at this very hour. Ten years ago tonight at this very hour I was engaged in one of my favorite conversations of my life. I remembered every detail, every word for days - months - years. I loved talking to him. I didn't want to our conversation to end...and neither did he - since he asked me out on a date that very night. The first time that a guy had asked me out that immediately.
I love to live in the light of possibility. That is what I think is so beautiful in the "Fiat" - Mary's yes - the yes of faith. "Let it be done to be according to your Word" indicates not just a trust but a firm belief in the creative, life-giving, loving kindness, purpose-fulfilling power that infuses God's will. This belief that God is for us. That God's intention for us is the discovery of our full-self, fully infused with himself - is our best life.
At the moment in my life when I met Dan, I was entering that place. Walking in faith - knowing that God created me for a purpose and that the desire of my heart was a good desire - one He'd placed in me - and that the One who calls me is faithful, that he would do it. This "knowing" gave me that confidence to "Jedi mind trick" the bouncers...not that I knew that I'd meet my husband that night..but I knew that eventually I would. ...and I knew there was potential for something that night.
Ten years have passed since I met Dan Kiesling and my life is far different that I would have imagined it to be. ...and I am glad. I am SO. GLAD. that I met Dan Kiesling that night. I am so glad that I said, "sure why not?" I am so glad that he, too, had to give a fiat - to step out in faith to enter into a committed relationship with a girl like me. Different from any girl he'd dated before, and the fulfillment of prayers. Just like he was for me.
To me, Dan was the embodiment of the willingness to say yes. Sure, why not? Yes, get the shoes, honey. :)
The song, "So Will I" (Hillsong United) has been on repeat in my mind/heart's playlist lately. This song is the essence of "Fiat" - as you speak, if creation sings your praises: so will I. I love how each stanza emphasizes the importance of God speaking life into being, His purpose in each aspect of creation, and our natural response to this wonder and awe. So will I - echoes a thought of "who am I to not?"
I am writing this memory today not to rehash old memories nor to cling to the past...but to honor this moment that changed my life - to honor the God who willed it to existence.
If you left the grave behind you, so will I
I can see your heart in everything you've done,
Every part designed in a work of art called love,
If you gladly chose surrender, so will I.
I don't know what my future holds, but I know that I live in the light of possibilities - because I choose to surrender to the God of the Universe who fills all things in every way. Life lived in Him is full of the infinite in every ordinary moment. If Mary lived in Fiat, so will I.
...and so today, on the tenth anniversary of meeting Dan Kiesling, we celebrated the next generation of Kiesling Fiats: Henry's first communion.
|Tim (Dan's brother), Henry and me|
Remember: at the heart of every Fiat is love.
Let us live in love, walk in love, and be in love.
If we can learn anything from Dan Kiesling, it is this: life is worth living each moment. So say Yes! Do the thing you long to do. Do the thing you don't normally do. Go out on a weeknight. Go to the graduation party. Ask the girl out. Kiss her. You don't know the outcome? Who cares? Do the thing! Live in this moment - because this is what you have, right now! Stay in the castle. Buy the shoes. Starch your jeans. Go to work. Do your best job. Eat the dessert. Lick the beaters. Enjoy the whiskey.
Clear eyes; full hearts; can't lose.