On the credenza in my office there is a small Altoids mint box. It was a gift given to me from a camp staffer at the end of the camp season 23 years ago. It has been in every office I have occupied since. And before you think, “Man, those must be some stale mints!,” in the entire time the box has been in my possession, it has never held mints. Instead, inside there is a very small piece of paper that simply says, “love wins”.
This proclamation, while simple, had, both for the giver and the receiver, a very powerful shared message.
The staff person who gifted me the box had struggled all summer in her role as a leader. She was a seasoned staff person, but found that when she moved into a leadership position, dynamics shifted. She was tested, resisted, accused, and hassled by previous peers and adults who had no intention of respecting her in this new role. The goal in this leadership learning curve was to become a relational leader rather than positional leader. To lead with love, respect, empathy, and compassion, rather than relying on “because I said so.”
My ‘coach mantra’ all summer long to her her had been, “in the end love wins.”
My longtime friend, colleague, and soul brother Fran McKendree’s song “Love Has Overcome,” based on the work of theologian Thomas Merton, encapsulates, in many respects, this belief that “in the end love wins.”
God, we are one with you;
You have made us one with you,
You have taught us that when
We are open to one another,
You dwell in us.
Fill us now with love,
Let us be bound together with love,
Love has overcome, Love has overcome.
Many days, it can feel like we are getting pelted from every direction, including from within ourselves. There is no denying that darkness is a part of our journey. Yet even in the midst of the darkness, as we follow the Way of Jesus, we are called to follow in the Way of Love. For it is in doing so that we proclaim, regardless of what comes our way, that we choose the way of Jesus, which is the Way of Love.