With Jesus, All Things are Possible

With Jesus, All Things are Possible

In my 2022 book, More from a Florida Catholic. I noted that the world is changing. Soon, my wife and I will return to Europe. From the 1960s to the 1980s, when first residing and last visiting, we noticed how, in particular, France and Italy have become quite interracial. So, our marriage is acceptable today in both Europe and America

However, I’m going to be brutally honest. In 1971, I had a stint teaching in a school in Brooklyn, N. Y.- Brownsville, near Bed Stuy. It was a  horrible experience wrought with all kinds of hatred and prejudice. During that time, I met some young ladies who were mostly teachers and black. From that experience, I had a vision of marrying a black woman because, in that segregated community, that was all who I was meeting. But, how could that be? My parents, family and relatives, really hard-core Brooklyn Italians, would have a fit. Impossible! But again, these were the only ladies I knew. After two years in that school and community, however, I resigned and re-entered grad school. Got out of there!

After landing in Miami, I worked for a time at General Development Corporation, There, I got a little friendly with the cutest black girl working in central records. At that same time, I began dipping into the Bible. We went out one evening and had a great time. We have been together ever since that night in December, 1975. How could this be? Here is a rundown: 

My family is Southern Italian, Naples and Sicily, first and second generation; she is African-American. 

I am from NYC; she is from a small town, Buena Vista, GA.

I lived in urban Brooklyn and Long Island; she from rural Georgia.

My parents were professional; her father was a truck driver.

I lived a rather privileged, bourgeois life; she was what is called poor.

My parents had servants in their residences, NY and Europe; she lived in the projects of the infamous Liberty City in Miami.

My friends were all white, Jewish and Italian; her friends were all black. 

I rarely met any black people until I was 20;  she never met a white person until she was 20.

My father paid for my college education for the most part, and bought me a car; she never went to college and took the bus to work.

I attended graduate school, a few degrees; she enrolled in one Spanish class at Miami Dade Community College.

I resided in 5 other countries besides NY with my parents, a Department of Defense official; she never left her Liberty City neighborhood in Miami.

I had one younger sister; she had 7 brothers and sisters.

I was Roman Catholic [at the time not really practicing]; she was Southern Baptist [at the time also not attending church].

My family was furious, and my father didn’t talk to me for two years; her parents were supportive but her siblings not so much, up to the moment when a 44-magnum revolver was pointed point blank at my head.

Today, we have been together for 48 years and married for 42!

I ask, how does a couple with such disparate experiences, socioeconomic characteristics, and culture maintain their relationship in an era of marital failure? Did it start in Brooklyn or before; did it start with my religious conversion at GDC? Does God work in mysterious ways, or does God just do his work? 

I’ll tell you one thing. God will bridle you if you get out of hand. One cannot veer too far from His will or you get in trouble. I was very mindful of that. Another is that You Only Live Twice as in that popular James Bond movie. This was popular during my days in Southern California. It was a lesson that stuck with me. To me, the first life is having your fun, youth, mistakes and all. Indeed, our first life is for ourselves. And generally, the damage is not too great during those days of times of mistakes.  However, during one’s second life, a time of responsibility, commitment and even surrender, there can be devastating effects if the individual doesn’t grow up. Temper your dreams. It took me a long time to grow up, rather remaining self-centered, immature and narcissistic as when I first began my education career. I think I have overcome much of it but now my career[s] are finished, music and education. I wish I could start over. And then, if You Only Live Thrice, [my 1st book] the third is a charm and it is for Christ!

So yes, Jesus was our glue, the Holy Spirit our guide. My wife became Catholic, an RCIA ceremony at St. Rose of Lima in Miami. We pray and offer our lives to Jesus every day, we participate in the Church. Our children attended Catholic schools. 

Praying and showing you love Jesus by obeying God’s commandments overcomes so many obstacles, barriers, differences. You can withstand anything knowing you are living in His presence. With Jesus we recognize our common values, with Jesus we develop our mutual perspectives, with Jesus we confirm our shared interests, with Jesus we work out our joint responsibilities, with Jesus we pray together, with Jesus we pray for each other, with Jesus all things are possible. With Jesus, God fights your battles. 

One final note. I have always enjoyed watching reruns of I Dream of Jeannie. Barbara Eden was so much fun. My wife is like that character. So much fun and she is just as beautiful to this day. Really. And she disappears and reappears continuously. She confuses me, but it all works out. She is my black I Dream of Jeannie. I remember when we were in Paris the men just loved her. One of our favorite Parisienne cafes is the Café Dupleix. While dining there, some local gentlemen residents stood at the bar and stared at my wife. Entranced, it seemed they were saying “Look at this classy beautiful Black woman and her gorgeous straight gray hair. We’ve never seen anything like it.” In the city of fashion, we weren’t uncomfortable at all. They were respectable, not overbearing or rude, just admiring. And the café garcons, after getting to know us, with all due respect to moi, would not hesitate to kiss her hand in that so gentlemanly French style upon our entrance. It was an honor for us, for her. We are returning to Paris and Rome soon, thanks to Jesus

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Written by
Michael Baglino