As the young men of Deerfoot Lodge got older, so did their interest in, and their concern about marriage. Some came from second marriage and single parent homes – all had friends who did. Many had parents with wonderful marriages – and this is what they wanted for themselves. Still others came from homes where, to those on the outside, everything looked wonderful. But on the inside…continual tension, sometimes physical pain.
These young men came to DL and saw how marriage can be, how marriage can work. This week Sally Jo and I had dinner with Chief Ron and Anne. They agreed that the marriages at DL were solid, healthy marriages – and that they continue to be. Healthy marriages cannot be faked for 11 weeks each summer.
In many ways, being married at DL is like being married anywhere. In the healthy marriage, the husband and wife continually adjust their expectations to the realities of life. At DL, never having never to cook also means no choice of menu. Being surrounded by recreational activities is great, but it can be frustrating not to have much time to enjoy them together. Staff children may not have playmates, and for sure, no TV’s or DVD’s. Walking in the cool rain to everything in camp gets old! Work days at DL can be long – the challenges unpredictable. Privacy: Limited.
Wazican opened the kitchen every morning except on his day off. On Sunday he was at the kitchen about 3:30 AM – sticky buns. His day ended when the kitchen was cleaned up. Imagine how out of it Lee felt when at Dun Login with a toddler and a baby. Yet Wazican and Lee maintained a good marriage.
The nurses lived above the sick campers and/or staff in the Health Center. For 15 summers Lynn Gosling’s husband, Bill, and later it was Linda Lankford’s husband, Lowell, had work responsibilities at home and would be at DL for only a few weeks each summer. When these men arrived, their nurse/wife was not suddenly freed of their responsibility for the sick and injured campers and staff. The nurse still had to pass out meds at meal times, and always be ready when needed by any member of the DL community. Bill, and then Lowell, would come to be with their wives, knowing the nurse schedule. Upon arrival they would do Health Center laundry: dirty sheets and wet sleeping bags. They would take sick and injured campers for medical care – anything they could to help their wives. If needed and available, these men would drive out hikes. Remember, these couples lived right above the sick campers and staff. If there were ever an angry word between husband and wife, those below would certainly have heard it.
Campers and staff noticed our marriages at DL. They could see the schedules we kept, the responsibilities we carried – they also could see the smiles, the laughter, the holding of hands. And the questions would come. During my one on one walks with staff members there were intense conversations about girl friends/fiancé’s. More than once the staff member knew what they should do….but, ouch! I know there were several relationships stopped after those conversations. I still get e-mails and phone calls. This week: “my wife’s pregnant” and “I definitely credit Deerfoot’s emphasis on growth through hardship as preparing me”…“miscarried”…“it’s been an endurance run”.
At every Island Question and Answer session, the questions asked about love, sex, and marriage would take a good portion of the 2 hours. They wanted straight, honest answers – and they got them. During the evening I would remind them that God invented sex, and it was good, and if they saw a candle burning in our bedroom window at the Lookout, to leave us alone. One evening at line-up I was given a 14” taper candle and encouraged to have a good evening. Laughter! The next morning I came to line-up with a candle stub, and said “Thanks!”
Living In Partnership With God requires living in partnership with our wives.
Next week: Biblical truths of marriage – with implications.