Agápe, Éros, Philía, and Storgē

  
The Greeks had four different types of love, agápeérosphilía, and storgē. 

  • Agápe – love: brotherly love; unconditional love; good will; loving without wanting anything in return.
  • Éros – love involving sexual passion: relationships; dating or marriage; appreciation of beauty.
  • Philía – love of affection: friendship; loyalty; equality; between two equals.
  • Storgē – Love, affection: especially between parents and children; natural empathy; acceptance.

Why do any of these matter? Well this summer I’m working at a camp where we have “AGAPE” campers. AGAPE campers are people with disabilities – any kind of disability. For example, some have down syndrome, they’re deaf, they’re paralyzed, some have intellectual disabilities, and this list can go on and on. Many of them can’t do a single thing for us. This is why we call them AGAPE campers – because we don’t love them because of how they love us or anything, we love them simply because they are. 

This week I had J, an AGAPE camper with moderate intellectual disabilities, Taybi Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy. Last time I mentioned how I was absolutely terrified about having her as a camper. I had no idea how she would act or what I would have to do.

However, by Tuesday I realized how absolutely stupid I was to be terrified of having her as a camper. J was super sweet. Every couple of minutes she would call me fabulous or cute. It was great because originally when she called me fabulous, it sounded more like she was saying “you’re very blessed.” J had the world’s sweetest heart.

My only problem I had at all with J? She apologized for everything. It made me wonder what was said and done to her throughout her life to make her act like that. It’s like she expects me to be mad at her. I hope with all my heart she was not yelled at or abused. I’ve heard horror stories about disabled people being abused or incorrectly treated.

J couldn’t do a thing for me except be. But I love her with all my heart. Maybe this is what true love is. Agápe.

Bethany

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The End and the Beginning

Today is the day; last night I finished staff training. As I sat by the dying embers of our celebratory fire for the end of training, I was hit with the realization – I’m not ready.

I’m not ready to be a leader for a week. I’m not ready to be in this position.

I’m a camp counselor at a Lutheran summer camp and tomorrow I get my first camper. I’ve worked at Christian summer camps before, but not one like this. I’ve had campers before, but never have I been so scared.

In two hours and thirty minutes I will meet “J.” Now I’ve heard J is a sweet woman, but she’s part of our disabled camp program. J has moderate ID, Taybi Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy; she’s not a particularly hard person to understand or work with, but this is definitely new for me.

I’m scared and excited. I’m scared I might offend her because I know I have a tendency to talk to the disabled like they are younger. I’m working on it but I’m still horrible at making sure I don’t. I’m scared because what if I teach her the faith wrong. I’m not Lutheran. I don’t believe everything the Lutherans here do… I don’t even know where everything is on campus yet, how am I supposed to lead?

I’m excited to, I’ve heard this is one of the best weeks, but I’m terrified. She likes dancing though. I hope I can do this.

Two hours and thirty minutes till I meet J.

Wish me luck,

Bethany

My daughter, Caitlyn Jenner, and Laverne Cox

gendermom

As the mother of a young transgender child, my response to Caitlyn Jenner’s headline-grabbing announcement is a visceral one. Yes, I’m kind of put off by the hype. No, I’m not a big fan of celebrity culture or reality television. But when I look at the cover of Vanity Fair, and read the news articles that respectfully use Jenner’s new name and female pronouns, I’m overwhelmed by this new state of affairs, and by a world that might just be ready to accept my daughter. And that knocks me off my feet with awe and gratitude.

I called my friend Alice, a member of our support group whose trans daughter is a few years older than mine. “Did you see it?” I said. She knew what I was talking about.

“Of course,” she said. I could hear her shaking her head over the phone, as overcome as I was…

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Lace

Sarah Ditum

lace

I learned to make lace when I was small, solemnly winding my bobbins with white thread then working over the pillow with deepest concentration – twisting and crossing the splints of wood, carefully weighted with scavenged beads, never learning so well that my hands could work without stumbling, but working all the same. I made my first few pieces, slack-tensioned and a little sloppy. My older female relatives and family friends inspected them indulgently but unimpressed. They were Bedfordshire women who had learned the needle arts at school, women who had been educated for domesticity, women who could not believe that I would leave school at 16 unable to knit, sew or make pastry. “I could make this,” my grandma would say, plucking the unhappy hems of my Topshop jumpers. “Didn’t they teach you anything?”

Their lives didn’t stop at what their education had fitted them for, though, because this…

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