Love is… Wait! What month is this?
Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
When you read this letter, you might think I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Love is a February topic, isn’t it? Where are the fall leaves or haunted house references we expect in October?! But I’ve been reading a lot of Richard Rohr lately, and his message just seems so pertinent to this particular time. Let me share a bit of his writing with you.
Rohr, contemplating the power of love, writes,
What had I learned about love? One of the central things was that the experience of being understood by another was of primary importance. Somewhere deep within was a “place” beyond all faults and virtues that had to be confirmed before I could run the risk of opening my life up to another. To find ultimate security in an ultimate vulnerability--this is to be loved.
We have been through so much turmoil this year as individuals and as a nation, and love, however defined, has been put to a severe test on so many levels, in so many contexts. Data gatherers are already telling us that depression, alcohol, and substance abuse have increased dramatically during Covid, that violent interactions are on the rise, and distance and disparity have featured in a heartbreaking number of news reports. We are also learning that employees are struggling to maintain their enthusiasm even about jobs they used to love and that our nation’s university students are struggling to stay engaged even though their programs represent their dreams for their futures.
What can we do?
In Student Affairs, we “do” a great deal every day. We carry out important processes that enable students to get in school, stay in school, and graduate, but the most impactful thing we can do every day is help someone love being here. In every encounter, in the midst of every application or process, as we respond to every email or phone call, we have the opportunity to create a positive experience between human beings that will enable all of those other important, action-oriented things to get done, but which will also enable love--love for jobs, love for programs, and love for our community--to flourish. This is true if we’re helping someone fill out FAFSAs or encouraging face-covering compliance, and it is also true about the larger work we need to get done, like facilitating social justice, equity, and equal access to education and opportunity.
Love doesn’t need a grand stage; love is just as potent in the day-to-day. If you don’t love Zoom, I get it. If you don’t love masks and plexiglass, I get that too. But if you need help loving your job, I’d like to help. Invite me to your staff meetings, and let’s find answers together. If you’re burned out and need a break, let’s talk. Join me during my open office hours, come to my monthly “The VP Is In” chats, or reach out to me on email. If we all love--our jobs, our students, our fellow human beings--intentionally, we’ll see each other through the difficult questions and the challenging times.