"My song is love unknown… love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be…"
(Samuel Crossman, 1664)
I believe that as RSCJ we are called to “make up for what is lacking”. This means being called to love the unloved – and especially the unlovable – to include the excluded, to treat with dignity and respect those who are often denied this basic courtesy.
Here at Oxford I try to do this directly in my daily contacts with students, who may be feeling confused, despondent or simply overwhelmed. When I worked for the CAB, training advisers, I emphasised the need to make up to our clients for the friendliness and courtesy which might be lacking in other agencies, especially in our disembodied, depersonalised call centre culture.
Love can be about grand gestures, sacrifice, heroism and fierce generosity… but all too often I find it is about a daily round of small, sometimes seemingly futile gestures: a friendly smile, a warm welcome, words of comfort or affirmation, sensitivity to a person’s pain, giving someone time in a busy day… Essentially, it is about ensuring people know that they are loved, and that God delights in them, no matter how unlovely and un-delightful they may feel, so that “they might lovely be”.