Culture & Society ---
The exclamatory "Wow!" was that which he blurted out when she stood up to be introduced that Friday evening at the Youth Fellowship. He had not seen her before. She was a first-time-visitor (hence the introduction), and she was tall and beautiful. He sat in the row behind her and slightly off to her right. For the rest of the meeting he could not concentrate. His mind was occupied with thoughts of her. He sang but was not singing; he listened but was not listening. He was simply going through the motion of participation. The moments dragged on interminably like a long-drawn-out blur, and he did the best he could to endure the wait. Following the meeting he sought her out, having rehearsed in his mind that which he would say but having little confidence in his memory's ability to recall the words when the time came. Amidst the throng of young people talking about this or that, he introduced himself, rather diffidently. An exchange of smiles, a brief chat, the promise to write, and the birth of youthful love. He left the Assembly Hall alive, invigorated, and in love.
A profusion of letters followed, each carefully crafted and dispatched with anxious anticipation. They exchanged thoughts on everything, but no words of loved were penned, though love was the undercurrent of their thoughts. And so their literary engagement continued, youthful and joyful, without the direct expression of love but undergirded with a profusion of love, seemingly bereft of passion but buoyed by passion. He offered words of care, words of wisdom, expressing thoughts reflecting a maturity far exceeding his youth - a maturity brought on by circumstances. Her words reflected a dignified and respectful submission to his love and care - a quiet, happy, unspoken submission. And then the words one day spoken from a heart chivalrous and principled. Words from that mind too mature beyond its years - a maturity brought on by circumstances. Words about the great gulf separating sixteen from nineteen. And she stood there and said nothing, her heart disappointed but not showing it. And they parted.
And that was the choice he made then, choosing principle above love - a love he locked away forever in that vault called the heart. And years came and went, and loves, too, came and went. And all the while he remembered, plagued by the naïveté of youth, and hoping for an opportunity just to be able to say, "I was young and foolish then."