"Amy!" I stopped just outside the door to the bus and turned to see one of my students, Klaudia, running toward me. She squeezed my waist and looked up at me, her eyes filled with tears. "I love you."
I looked down into her eyes and for only the second time in my life that I can remember I managed to eke out a voice-cracking, "I love you, too," as the tears in my own eyes threatened to overrun their carefully preserved dam.
Why is love such a difficult emotion for us to express? Why do anger and disdain seem to come so much more naturally? I've spent the last few weeks pondering my own issues in expressing my feelings as I've said goodbye to friends abroad as well as at home. Hugs I can give freely, but let my emotions flow wildly enough to allow others to see me cry? Never. In the presence of others I will always fight the tears with all I have. As a child I cried when I was hurt, when I was sad, and when I was angry. As I got older I began to see crying as weak. That vulnerability made me uncomfortable. To verbally express my love is even rarer. The fear of putting it out there only to learn it is not reciprocated is overwhelming. Instead, I most often express love via nonverbal methods, doing a favor, giving a gift.
In her article, What Is Love?, Sheryl Paul writes:
"Love is action. Love is tolerance. Love is learning your partner's love language and then expressing love in a way that he can receive. Love is giving. Love is receiving. Love is plodding through the slow eddies of a relationship without jumping ship into another's churning rapids. Love is recognizing that it's not your partner's job to make you feel alive, fulfilled, or complete; that's your job. And it's only when you learn to become the source of your own aliveness and are living your life connected to the spark of genius that is everyone's birthright can you fully love another."
Camp has taught me a lot about love. Through my friends, both Polish and American, that I have made there, I have learned to love more openly. Love permeates everything at camp. Lasting bonds are formed almost overnight. The kids especially are so open with their feelings. They support one another and care for each other. When one camper was hurt during a game, immediately the others began to crowd around out of genuine concern. We could learn a lot from them. If only we could love as openly and ardently as these youth how much better would the world be?
"Remember, love is a choice. Choose to love others."
--Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages