Grounded in Love

For Philip Lockwood, participating in life at the Study Center has been an experience in growing to know more deeply the love of Christ and of Christian community. 

Phil Lockwood
Photo by Abby Vendt.

When asked what one word reflects my experience with the Study Center, I immediately thought of “love,” but then I thought, “Nah, that is way too simple and easy an answer.” I then started searching my brain for a more sophisticated-sounding word like “scintillating” or “intentional,” but when that did not make any sense, so I came back to “love.” The more I thought about it, the more it seemed right and the opposite of an easy answer. After all, love is the basis for the two greatest commandments that Jesus charges us to live out: love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself. Nothing about that is simple or easy, and neither is the Study Center’s pursuit of those two tenets. The Study Center serves as a beacon of light to UVA and the greater Charlottesville community, and for me it has done this in a couple of ways.

First, the Study Center is a spacious building with plenty of cozy study space. During my first year, I loved making the pilgrimage here from my dorm in Dillard because it was quietly comforting knowing that, while I may not know many of the people around me, they were like me, trying to navigate life in a secular university, trying their best not to fail Psych 1010 or Intro Accounting. It felt safe. It truly felt like a home.

Some of my fondest memories are of conversations during a study break the night before a test, laughing and commiserating with my fellow students, who also always seemed to remind me that my identity was not in my G.P.A. but in my sonship in Christ. As my four years draw to a close, I have enjoyed still being reminded of this truth and also getting to speak that truth into other’s lives when I recognize the all too familiar symptoms of “please-help-I’m-drowning syndrome,” otherwise known as the College Experience. The Study Center has served as a bustling hub for Christian community at UVA, a place where people can work, live, and love alongside each other.

Second, the Study Center staff has loved me so well. They work tirelessly to foster community, whether it is through class dinners, guest speakers, or NCAA basketball watch parties, they always find a way to bring people together (and give out free food). One of the reasons finals week is one of my favorite times of year is because of Exam Snacks. The food is always delicious and the capacity to feed droves of "hangry" college students lined up from the Corner to the front door still amazes me. It reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish.

Listening to guest speakers, reading books recommended by Fitz Green, and engaging in Bible studies at the Study Center have all definitely grown me in my faith. None of it could have happened without the staff constantly striving to love students well.

Thirdly, I think of love when I think of the Study Center because I love the Study Center. I love the people; I love the space; I love what it stands for. It represents a community of Christians intermingled across fellowship, race, gender, and year all coming together to serve and live as the body of Christ. Now that is truly a beautiful thing. Indeed, what’s not to love?