At heart, I am a romantic. The sweeping gestures, the little expressions, the passion and conviction, the reunions and second chances — these have always captivated me. And that is because I believe in love.

That may surprise those who think me a cynic. They have not sat beside me watching “Love, Actually.”

Sappy, crass, commercial British rom-com that it is, I nevertheless am held rapt by each of the movie’s myriad couplings and story lines. Can Jamie and Aurelia overcome their cultural differences to find love? Will Mark’s obsession with Juliet be forever unrequited? Will Colin discover abundant carefree sex in America?

But what grips my heart and thrusts it upward toward my throat is the opening monologue, as spoken by Hugh Grant’s character, the British prime minister.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport.

“General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there — fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends ...

“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

Love is the single most powerful and abiding force in this universe — nay, it may transcend even that to unite souls across time and space.

I believe that because it is what brought Catherine Murphy and me together two years ago — and into marriage Saturday afternoon.

Many of you may know Catherine, who has lived here for more than five years. As the director of communications for Moore County Schools, part of Catherine’s job is to call families when weather cancels school. As such, she is far more famous and beloved by children than I am. I have given her the title of “Snow Queen, Grantor of the Weekday Sleep-In.”

Love manifests itself in many ways. Sometimes it is “true,” finding that soul-matched couple early so they may grow to celebrate gold and platinum anniversaries together. For others, love is a patient, long-silent partner. Recently, a friend told me his sister, in her 70s, had just married for the first time.

For so many others, love is restless, unsettled, a chemical bond missing a critical element to provide perfect stability. And so those souls split apart, cast back into the universe of elements.

Catherine and I bounced around that universe for a long time. Only after we were together did we marvel at how, had a few decisions in our lives gone differently, we might have run into each other long ago. Maybe we would have been students at Ohio State in a communications class, or bumped into each other in a San Francisco bar in December 1996. Two people, destined to intersect — but not at that point.

But love takes its own time, travels its own path. Neither is linear. Often we must endure pain, suffer doubt, experience uncertainty and fear. The human condition requires that we bear our crosses. That’s because love is divine, the perfect expression of God’s bestowed grace. Through that grace we are granted the salvation of love.

Catherine and I traveled long and crooked paths to each other. There were happy times, to be sure — blessings bestowed along the way — but also periods of searing pain and isolation. For all the times we could have intersected, the universe kept us apart, as though it was not yet done forming us into our best possible selves for the other.

But as was said in our wedding Saturday, love is the great unifying force, the original “just in time” delivery.

“And when it was most needed, love worked its magic,” our officiant, Sam Walker, said. “From these two individual lives, love forged a powerful bond that stirs us all, that makes us happy inside, that reassures us that the most powerful force in this universe has not forsaken us, no matter the distance traveled or time elapsed or obstacles surmounted.

“As we celebrate John and Catherine today, so too do we celebrate the amazing power of love.”

And so Catherine and I, in our vows to each other yesterday, validated the mystery and magic — the faith and fascination, the power and the glory, the grace and gift — of the love that, actually, is all around.

Contact editor John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Comments that violate any of the rules above are subject to removal by staff.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. Subscribe today and support local community journalism.

Digital Only Subscriptions

The Pilot

Get unlimited digital access and support award-winning local journalism, for just $5 a month. This includes access to the electronic replica edition of The Pilot.

Starting at
$5.35 for 30 days

Already have a Print Subscription? Get Digital Access Free.

The Pilot

As a print subscriber, you also have unlimited digital access. Connect your account now.

Home Delivery

The Pilot

Our best deal: Get all the news of Moore County delivered to your home each Wednesday and Sunday — and receive unlimited digital access to

Starting at
$27.82 for 90 days