Along the main hallway at LCM, we have an area where we collect short profiles of “Humans of LCM,” the students who are a part of our ministry or spend time in the student center. Each profile has a photo, the student’s name and hometown, and an interesting fact about them. There’s a place for them to check some boxes describing why they come to LCM: for coffee or tea, snacks, friends, worship, to study, etc.
We first started inviting students to be a part of the collage on the wall of humans a few years ago because I (like so many others) deeply struggle to remember people’s names but know how meaningful it is to be known and recognized.
I have found that once I know something about a student (like that they are double jointed or like lizards or play lacrosse), I have no problem recognizing them and welcoming them by name to the student center when they come through our doors. And because we invite students to introduce themselves in this small, silly way, other students also have the opportunity to recognize and get to know each other.
Being recognized is, in itself, a deep blessing on a campus the size of UW-Madison. In vast calculus lectures and on crowded sidewalks, the sheer anonymity of college can be a shock to the system. Even in big cities, most of us grew up in small communities where we were known: in families and churches, in schools, and on sports teams.
Each of us longs to belong. To be known and loved. To let our guard down, be cared for, and receive the gift of respite in the midst of the demands of daily life.
In this LCM newsletter, you’ll have the opportunity to glimpse how being recognized and offered refuge and respite touches and changes lives in this ministry. Ryan and Bryan Anderson experienced it when they came to Madison in 1992 and were greeted by Campus Pastor Tom Widmark. Brittany Crawford reflects on what it means to welcome students today with coffee and snacks. In the article about ecospirituality, you’ll read about how time to rest and renew opens students not only to God’s presence but to being present to one another.
The experience of being offered hospitality—of being welcomed and known and cared for—in small and tangible ways, helps us to recognize and remember how God welcomes and knows and cares for each of us. Thomas Merton once wrote:
“God knows us from within ourselves—not as objects, not as strangers, not as intimates, but as our own selves. God’s knowledge of us is the pure light of which our own self-knowledge is only a dim reflection.” (Merton, No Man is an Island, p.168)
To be known and loved by God is the deepest of blessings. As humans, we struggle to see ourselves or others as God does. But to know and love others in Christ’s name is the privilege of doing ministry. Perhaps like Ryan and Bryan you remember what it was like to be loved and known at LCM, or perhaps you have come to know it through another person’s experience or your experience in another community.
As always, I am grateful for the many ways that Christ’s mercy and grace abound here on campus, and for your ongoing interest in and support for Lutheran Campus Ministry.
Rev. Emily Tveite, Director & Campus Pastor