Monday, October 11, 2010

A time to love

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven...

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love...

I don't like getting flowers. Oh, I love flowers. I spend hours playing in my beds of daisies, roses, lavatera, petunias, and flax. But I don't love receiving bouquets because I don't have a lot of counter or table space. And most cut flowers come in my least favourite colours: pink, orange, and purple. My kids ensure there's enough mismatched clutter on every flat surface without anyone sticking vases of orange everywhere. I feel guilty, but when I stare across the table at flowers where the face of my husband should be, inside I'm chanting: "Die. Die." (To the flowers, not my husband.)

And I don't always like getting hugs. Sometimes it feels like I'm being held captive (particularly if they come when I'm in the middle of something), other times it feels like bugs crawling on my skin. I love the thought that comes with a hug: "Oh, he or she must really care about me," so I don't want people to stop doing it. But the feeling is sometimes kind of icky.

I don't always like complements, either. If they are specific ("You have soft hands." "I loved your story on kids with anxiety disorders."), I know the person has thought through it, and I assume they are sincere. but if their praise is too general ("You look nice." "You are a good writer."), I wonder if they really mean it or if they have a motive for their flattery. (Incidentally, parenting experts say we should be as specific as possible in our praise to children: "Your floor looks so clean" sinks in farther than "Good girl!" Maybe I think like a kid.)

So, if you are up on your love languages, you'll know that mine is not gifts, meaningful touch, or spoken words.

I have many friends who care about me. I can call them for prayer. They ask how I'm doing. They hug me every Sunday at church. I feel loved.

And lonely. Because my love language is time.

Most of my friends are married with several kids, a full time job, a house (in many cases, on the other side of town), community and church involvements, and extended family (maybe even parents or grandparents needing care). The one thing they don't have is time.

Unless...they are campers. Camping is all about time. Things we normally rush through, like cooking, washing dishes, making beds, are slowed, simplified, and done together. We have time to gather stones, time to speak, time to embrace, time to stop in the middle of the highway and take photos of a giant snapping turtle, who is also very slow.

We bought a camper trailer this fall. It's old. It's cramped. The first time we set it up at a campsite was in the dark, in the freezing cold, with both kids running wild. The second day we broke the light fixture (wiring was worn) and two flashlights. We bought another one at the campground store. And we broke that too (kids mistook it for a lightsabre). We were dark. We were cold. We were together. And I'm glad.

A while back, I asked my pastor to pray that I would make a new friend. Lucky me, I met a camper.

My kids get along with her kids. My kids get along with their dog. Our husbands have things in common (Blah, blah, Mac OS, blah, blah, Windows updates). We spent the weekend together in the bush collecting rocks, roasting marshmallows, and taking pictures of creeks and waterfalls. (And dragging angry turtles off the highway by the tail.) I don't know what we'll do next.

But we have time.