They’re getting older and the bucket swing is almost a thing of the past as is the chase-the-toddler stage. So I usually sit on a bench and watch them play. To a tired mother, the park is a breath of fresh outdoor air on an April afternoon. To two little girls, the neighborhood playground is a world of possibilities contained in a couple acres of municipal property.
“Do you think there will be other kids there, mom? How long can we stay?” My eight-year-old’s anticipation builds as we walk up the hill and around the corner.
Her expectation isn’t for jungle gyms and monkey bars, but for the prospect of new friendship in the space of a short spring afternoon.
“Maybe Brooke will be here,” my littlest thinks out loud. And I know that her best friend, Brooke will NOT be at the park. But it doesn’t matter. She makes friends with more confidence than most adults I know. We get to the park edge and they both race off, eager to introduce themselves to all children remotely within their age range.
They find sisters playing, five and seven, and immediately they are all new friends, creating a pirate ship from a jungle gym and a castle from a pair of slides.
Just like most children, their friendships are fast and strong. When we have to walk back to begin dinner, they both cry because they might not ever see them again. The “never” is left in the void of their hearts.
Contrary to popular opinion, we women have trouble making friends.
As women we weigh, we watch and we wonder if that other woman will socially work with us, if we will connect, if it will be easy conversation. We hover around the edges until the moment is right and tentatively offer a sliver of personal information and hope they offer back. We walk carefully near the fringes of people, watching where we step because if we get too close we will be in heart-hurting range. It can take years.
We don’t make a practice of quick love. We’ve lost it somewhere between nail polish and stealing one another’s boyfriends.
What if we loved as quickly and as passionately as a four or an eight-year-old?
What if we threw our whole hearts into the basket, opened up our entire souls to be vulnerable? What if we jumped into one another’s lives and showed the kind of broad-stroked love that Jesus did?
Whomever. No matter what they’d done.Or are doing.
Sure, we might get stepped on once in awhile.
But what if?
I’d never be lonely with such quick love or have that empty space in my heart.
I wouldn’t feel the void of wanting to tell something to someone and not knowing who.
And what if the Church ran out into the open acres of the world with the same kind of messy, open love that a child has?
We’d never have empty pews. We would BE community. We would BE love, just like we should be.
Do you love quickly?