The nature and necessity of bone-deep love

A reflection from our dean, Emilie M. Townes, for May 2022:

I have been pondering a conversation I had with a friend about the nature and necessity of love. We both agreed that love is a good thing, a desirable thing. And we wondered at how often we do not take very seriously the power of bone-deep love when it is practiced in our daily lives consistently—not as an ought, but as a must.

I remain convinced that we must embrace the demands of love.  A love that is determined to face into the wickedness of our day.  A love that is neither sentimental nor vapid.  A love that is paired with justice. Our job as faithful folk, responsible folk, scholarly folk, is to build a more just society so we must harness the power of love over hate and violence. This is easy for me to say, I know, and awfully difficult to live in our everydayness. But that’s the marvelous thing about a challenge—it pushes us beyond who we are and what we might normally do or feel comfortable doing and helps us move into new spaces of welcome and hope. We break free of our normal and revel in the emerging “what if.”

Far too many of our public conversations in society, in religious gatherings, in the workplace and more have become as spiteful as the house, 124, in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. This negative energy does little to grow any of us into the hope of the world that we each have within us, but instead we choose a slow moan death of holocaust and a never-ending middle passage. I simply do not believe that we should practice this spite as if it represents the Holy and therefore sacred when in reality it is little more than an over-religified, solipsistic Matterhorn.

Bone-deep love calls us to live our lives out of the possibilities found in wholeness, self-reflection, justice, peace, a new heaven and a new earth, hope and not our shortcomings—that rest on greed, self-centeredness, avarice, coveting, despair. Amazing love moves us to grow in compassion, understanding, and acceptance of each other. A far better place to be morning by morning and day by day.