Meredith sat in her canoe on the lake. She often did this to get away and relax at the end of her day. It was another day at the office of busy meetings and note taking for her bosses. She had tried to make it in the world of business, but she realized that she may always be an administrative assistant rather than the one making important decisions. She gave up on each relationship she’d ever been in to focus on her career. Now at 40, she realized that she may never wed. She paddled around and looked at the sunset. She had a nice place outside of the city, well worth the commute. A small, humble cottage. She thought of the phone calls she had chosen not to answer from her brothers and sister. They had again invited her to birthday parties, graduations, and the like. She always said she never had time for those kind of things. She would just send a card with a $20 in it. She looked over to her favorite willow tree that hung on the lake. There was a man in it! He plunged into the water. She began to grow nervous and soon paddled over near to the spot he went in. The man suddenly came out of the water gasping for breath and clung to the canoe. Meredith helped him into it.
“Are you okay? Did you go into the water on purpose? Meredith asked puzzled.
“Oh, yes.” The man replied. “I went in to save you.”
Meredith grew confused.
“Uh, how did I need saving exactly?” Meredith asked.
“That’s the problem with your kind. Perspective. You always have the wrong perspective.” The man said shaking his head.
“My kind? You mean women?!? Listen here buster I”ll knock you so hard…”
“Meredith.” The man interrupted. “Are you going to continue to make assumptions? Or can I talk now?”
Meredith was startled that the man knew her name.
“Do I know you? Why don’t I paddle you to shore, and you can call a ride.” Meredith said skittishly.
“Well, I’d like to enjoy the sunset and talk with you if you could spare a moment. Or you can blow me off as you did with your family last night.” The man said staring into the sun.
Now Meredith considered jumping out and swimming to shore.
“Uh, sir.” She said with concern. “Are you stalking me? Have you been in my house or my phone? I am going to go to shore and call the police.”
“Stalking is a terrible word for what I do. I watch and wait. I do not stalk.”
Meredith grabbed her paddle and decided to use it as a weapon.
“There is no need for that.” The man said calmly. “I know my presence is unexpected, but I cannot watch you pitifully paddle around this lake for another moment. I have come to talk to you about the opportunities you think you’ve missed and the ones you truly have.”
“Uh, what are you talking about.” Meredith wanted to leave but at the same time she wanted to stay.
“Well, I suppose I should introduce myself. I am love.” The man spoke softly.
Meredith stood to go over the side and swim to shore.
“Come now, Meredith, I am here to make sure you do not waste what I have given you.”
“If you are love like you say, then I know what I missed. I took a chance on my career over men. See you didn’t need to visit. OK, bye, now let’s head to shore.” Meredith said in an annoyed tone.
“Ha. Those men were merely chances to show you what you truly are missing, but you simply assumed they were merely relationships to enjoy for a time?
“Then what? What did I miss?”
“You know, you just refuse to admit it. You are too busy being bitter that you cannot love the ones who truly love you. Yes, you chose career over family, but not the family you thought. You chose to work on Saturdays instead of going to see the birth of your nephew. You chose working late rather than seeing your niece’s ballet recital. You seek love but it has been there all along. Just not the way you wanted it. I gave you so many opportunities to show and grow your love, but you chose to be selfish and demand love from other places. You were not content with what I gave you. If you want true love… then call your family.”
Aaron Brown is the pastor of children’s ministry at Maranatha Evangelical Free Church in Rice Lake and is a regular at Maxine’s Restaurant on Thursday mornings.