A Real Character

I sat in a comfortable, though very worn vinyl tub chair in the domestic terminal of Wellington Airport yesterday, munching on a good braeburn apple, and staring out the window at wind, rain, and general aviation activity.

About 4 metres away sat another traveller, who I would later find out was headed, like me, for Auckland on Pacific Blue flight DJ3003.  He was slouched lazily in his identical tub chair, chatting away to a young mother who was probably wondering how she and her 6-7 year old son could plot their escape.  It wasn’t that he was unpleasant or offensive, he was just a bit… um… unusual.

Picture if you will a man of around 30, with long dark-brown hair, a full woodchoppers beard, and a leather Australian musterers hat.  Not too unusual so far?  Right, so glance down and take in his black shirt with full blue and green tartan shawl, attached at the right lapel with a large brass pin/brooch.  The shawl is of course tucked into the back of a flowing tartan kilt, complete with the large leather sporran hanging in front.  A little further down, past the very hairy knees, are a pair of what look to be genuine Scottish Highland socks pulled as high as they will go.

Okay, so some patriotic Scots are known to wear the full kit from time to time.  I get that.  Only, they don’t usually wear huge black boots with red and orange flames painted down either side, and enormous silver buckles.  They looked like a couple of pre-60’s roadsters from Grease, racing down the empty dyke.

But more interesting to me was what he was saying to this unsuspecting young woman and her son.  Clearly an eccentric chap, he was firing questions and pressing for unwilling answers.  To which he would almost invariably reply, “No, it’s actually…”.  One such question made me start to think, to the extent that I was almost tempted to go and join the discussion.  He asked, “What is the opposite of love?”

Thinking this was an easy one, the lady replied, ‘hate’.  And he predictably replied, “No, it’s actually… fear.”  I missed what his justification for that was, as I was suddenly lost in thought.  What IS the opposite of love?  I don’t necessarily agree that the answer is ‘hate’, or ‘fear’.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I think the answer is ‘neglect’.

I think of love as a verb, ‘to love’.  Therefore, from my perspective anyway, the opposite is inaction… and where love is concerned, this amounts to neglect.  Jesus gives love as the subject of the 2 greatest commandments – love God, with all your heart, mind, and strength.  Then love your neighbour, as yourself.  If we fail to love God, we neglect Him.  If we fail to love His people, our neighbours, then we neglect them.  Food for thought…


2 thoughts on “A Real Character

  1. I dont want to know the opposite to love, but it feels like a long cold distance from God, shut off in a cell, where the light is consumed by shadows

  2. Nigel, I really warm to your descriptive style … helps us, in this story, to put in the tub seat next to you … fantastic. Re your conclusions/ reflections/ comments … if I had been talking to the chap at that time, then I wouldn’t have answered ‘hate’ (to his question) … but now I would answer ‘neglect’ … brilliant! Keep watching and thinking and writing … Nick

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