Something that has interested me in the last few years is the idea of the five “love languages.” Now when I say this, some people may think of the Latin-based Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, etc.). But what I actually am talking about are five supposed ways that we love, and they are quality time, acts of service, touch, words of affirmation, and gift giving/receiving. Crossroads affords its walkers the opportunity to be able to grow in humility by learning to give love in all of these ways more perfectly. As you can probably imagine, living in close quarters with a large group of people for three months doesn’t always make one want to love their teammates at every moment of every day, but we learn to do it anyway (especially because each person feels most loved in different ways.) For example, I’m terrible at giving gifts. I don’t particularly like to do it, nor am I good at picking them out. But our team is preparing to do a “Christmas in July” day where each person has a secret Santa, and so it’s challenging me to be able to love this person by finding them something that would be meaningful to them. Other people don’t really like to be touched- they like to have a personal bubble. Not only do we not have any kind of personal space in the RV, but I also really like to hug people…. like a lot. We all adjust because we love each other.
While being on Crossroads gives everyone the chance to learn to give love, it also gives us the chance to learn how to receive it. We as walkers live in a constantly heightened emotional state for various reasons (whether it be the stress of the walk or spiritual warfare), and so it is important for us to make sure that we aren’t putting ourselves in a box so as to not take in the love that our team- and really, anyone we meet- gives us. I’ve been very aware of this throughout the summer, and it’s really made me appreciate these instances of compassion a lot more, I think.
Yesterday, I was walking with two of my teammates in a very small town called Gothenburg, Nebraska. At one point, we had to walk across a street where a car was stopped, waiting to turn left. The driver let us walk in front of her, even though she could have easily turned so as not to have to wait for us (an act of service). As we were walking in front of her car, a different driver cut us off to turn down the street. They had their windows down and yelled “PRO CHOICE!!” at us with accompanying hand gestures. I continued to walk, a little disheartened, until the woman who let us walk in front of her car rolled down her window to calmly say to us- “I’m Pro Life.” Those words of affirmation completely brightened my day and were exactly what I needed in that moment. Such a small thing, so seemingly insignificant, and yet it really was a huge pick-me-up for myself and my two teammates. She could have remained silent. But instead, she chose to love us in that small way.
Which made me think of how presenting the Pro Life message each day. It’s so easy to just look at the ground for the entirety of a shift, silently walking. It is equally as easy to not pay attention to the mission and carry on a conversation with whoever I’m walking with at the time. But as I’ve had to come to realize this summer, an integral part of our mission is exposure, and sporting these fluorescent yellow Pro Life billboards of shirts, we are certainly exposed. But how do people see me as they pass me on the road? Am I speaking love to them by giving a smile and a wave? Or am I distracted, not paying attention to those who I’m supposed to be witnessing to? I should constantly be striving to carry myself in the former manner- not only here on Crossroads, but in my daily life as well. If my heart was able to be touched by such a small gesture of love, so can anyone’s.
Mother Mary, pray for us that we may be able to love perfectly like you!
Kathlene Gorman, Central Walk 2013