Fall and Spring are so nourishing at Loyola. I find myself excited by the things I learn, the challenges I’m given, the classmates and professors who help me grow. Then summer comes. I take one class, maybe two, and the thrill of it all is packed into a few short weeks before I have no choice but to take a break. And yet!
Last week Barack Obama spoke up in favor of gay marriage. In that moment of his standing up for those who are marginalized, the excitement that normally comes to me through my courses set my heart once again on fire. Why? Because I saw a man who has been given great power – and with it, great responsibility – use that power to give voice to the voiceless, to show respect to those who are outcast, to preach acceptance and love not in a sermon but in his simply choosing not to discriminate, not to hate.
This is what Loyola is teaching me. It is what Jesus – and the Jesuits who founded Loyola University Maryland – have always taught: love unconditionally. No wonder my heart is aflame when class is in session! Learning to love is essentially getting to know God, Who is love. The disciples asked regarding Jesus, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked to us on the road… (Luke 24:32)?” I often refer to my experience at Loyola as my journey…I am walking with Him on this road and my heart is indeed burning.
Yet this summer my heart is burning again as I watch a man with so much power over others attempt to give that power to those without. I took Intro to Pastoral Counseling a few semesters ago with Dr. Stewart-Sicking. He had us not only reading about empowering others through our counseling but also through fighting the systems that keep others on the margins. We were compelled to do service learning – I did mine at Bon Secours Hospice in Richmond, VA – so we could better understand those who are most in need of compassion – and action. It gives me hope to see the leader of the free world risk so much (it is, after all, an election year) in favor of compassion. Perhaps the citizens of his country will be inspired to risk the same.
I am taking only one course this summer although I dare say I am immersed in a second. It is the course of Life, prerequisite: Love.