What Love Really Is – by Oliver Gaskin

On paper, I suppose, I’d be the last person you’d look to for love advice. Being single and proud for the past two years, one could assume love is the last thing on this lowly bachelor’s mind. In my 22 years of experience, I have made my fair share of mistakes and will likely make many more. I’m not writing this to teach you, this is not a guide. Maybe it’ll make you think; maybe you’ll learn something, maybe not.

I was raised in a loving family. Not a perfect family, but a loving family. I was also raised in a loving community. Some people think Brantford is a little rough around the edges but home will always warm your heart. I have lived, loved, worked and learned a lot while attending Camp Kintail on the shores of Lake Huron between Kincardine & Goderich. The love I felt there is what inspired me to write this.

They taught me to love in an entirely new way. It was the last week of summer in my third year of counselling. Senior co-ed was an especially long camp lasting ten days, accompanied by all the joys, drama and raging hormones 13–16 year olds bring. Being in charge of 9 high school boys I was well aware of the young love in the air. Constantly distracted by member of the opposite sex, even walking from the cabin to the mess hall was a challenge. Over the course of 10 days we laughed, learned, pranked, sang, swam and worshiped together. It was a safe place where each of them could be themselves without worrying what others thought. I don’t know how it happened, or if it was even something my co-counsellors or I could have predicted.

On the very last night we stayed up talking. Reminiscing about the fun we had, dreading the long ride home and the beginning of school. One camper said he’d miss everyone. Another chimed in and said “Uh, I’m not sure how to say this and don’t take it the wrong way but I love you guys.” I was flabbergasted and flattered. Homophobic slurs dominate playground trash talk so love was the last thing I expected boys to say to each other. The boys didn’t giggle and there wasn’t the slightest homophobic hum. We all understood it, and we all felt it. It wasn’t a romantic love but it’s the love you have for your brother.

Ancient Greek has four words for expressing love: agápe (unconditional love), éros (passionate love), philía (love between family or friends), and storgē (affection). It makes me think that us English folk are at a disadvantage when it comes to expressing love as contentment, appreciation, longing, arousal, friendship, excitement, fondness or caring. Expressing love takes more than words; love motivates us and moves us forward, love is the most powerful force. 

Brantford is bursting with creativity & culture fueled by love. It is especially important as we enter the holiday season we express our love for one another. Love selflessly and fearlessly.

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