When I say, “You matter,” how does it make you feel? How would you respond?
The teaching of our faith – the teaching of all faiths really – reflects a divinity that loves humanity. “And God so loved the world”, “This is my beloved son”, “As my Father loves me, so I love you”. “Love one another as I have loved you” – are these merely catchphrases that float mindlessly like those darn musical “earworms” we sometimes find buzzing around our brain that we can’t get out? Or are they words of power that, if truly felt and lived, could change the world? When I asked the question above, how did you answer? Who has helped you know you matter?
IVC took the time to ask and reflect on these very questions when it comes to those who face poverty and homelessness. We engaged those questions through the sponsorship of an extraordinary and unique experience called “Invisible Words – An Exercise in Empathy.”
If what our faith teaches is true and God invites us to love one another, how do we show those facing homelessness, poverty, mental illness, and marginalization that they matter?
The Invisible Words exhibit suggests the first step is simple encounter and acknowledgement. One of my favorite signs read “Smile”. As I read that sign, I noticed a smile quickly came to my face. How might that smile felt to the person holding that sign? Would a simple smile, a look conveying “I see you. I value you with a positive gesture,” make a difference?
Positive human encounter is a powerful healing force. This is what our service corps members and the agencies where they serve do every day. They give people back their dignity and respect because interacting, in even the simplest and most positive ways, let’s someone know they matter. Knowing you matter to others brings you hope. And that hope changes you and your actions for the better. Lives change. For many, that is the only way they can truly feel God’s love for them.
Love one another. Straight forward medicine that heals the broken places in our humanity. Thank you service corps members – and everyone who supports them – for answering God’s invitation and being the medicine our world needs today.