Â By Shayna Freisleben
My parents havenât been too pleased with me lately. The list of problems is growing. I havenât been working on college applications at the pace they would like. It peeves them when my sister and I squabble and when punctuality escapes me. They were really irritated when I got into a car “incident” in the Senior Lot. But when I told my mother that I wanted to attend church services, she thought I had simply lost my mind.
In actuality, it was an e-mail from School Chaplain Father J. Young that piqued my interest. He invited the school community to the Episcopalian service he leads every Tuesday morning in St. Saviourâs Chapel before school. I have never been one to question my religion (unabashedly Jewish), but I have long been searching for my spirituality and faith within said religion. This summer, at Jewish sleep away camp, my personal relationship with religion grew exponentially, therefore making me more comfortable to explore things I wouldnât otherwise explore.
I opted to go to chapel last Tuesday, exactly one week before I sat in synagogue for Rosh Hashanah. I wanted to go for the experience, and partially to feel more in touch with Harvard-Westlake, when it often seems like our student body lacks any true sense of community, or so they say.
Most students probably havenât been in St. Saviourâs. Itâs nice. Its wood-paneled walls, symmetrical pews, and plaques honoring the Harvard past connected me to the foundations of this very school. With so much building and razing, particularly of late, it is somewhat refreshing to walk into history.
I opted not to audibly pray, but I followed along in the prayer book. I felt out of place and awkward. A friend and her mother were seated when I walked in, and I joined them. I have known this family for most of my life, and I would always pride myself on teaching her about Judaism. She knew how to say “Baruch ata Adonai” by the age of 8. But now, they were instructing me when to stand, when to kneel, when to cross my arms across my chest. She showed her faith to me just as I would proudly display my faith to her.
An experience like this is intimate. Not due to the small size of the service, but because religion is particularly intimate. And when we step outside our realms of comfort or classrooms, our schoolâs true concept of learning is promoted.
I encourage my classmates to go to chapel. Some of us could really benefit from those 30 minutes, or from the renewed mindset that comes with it. And in these next crazy few months, we could all use a little serenity.