Historically speaking, Kalamazoo College was a Baptist institution. Over the years, religion has become less of a focus within the school, and now here we are: a nondenominational institution with a beautiful chapel in the middle of our small campus. This structure with its copper roof hosts choral rehearsals and recitals throughout the year, as well as being a popular sight for weddings.
But it does get a regular use every Friday during common time: Community Reflection. There is tea and donut holes and lots of great conversations. It’s a time to come and listen to others speak about their experiences, as well as reflect on your own. Topics range from big things like “hope” to less serious topics; last quarter there was even a sing-a-long tenth week to relieve the stress finals always bring.
This past Friday was a little different from the usual Community Reflection, because it was tied to a specific religion. It was a celebration of Good Friday and Easter Sunday in the Christian Tradition. The reflection started with Reverend Liz Candido welcoming the students, all with tea and donuts in hand. She explained the purpose of the Reflection, and how it would function “we are going to do Good Friday through Easter Sunday in 45 minutes!” she joked, warranting laughs from the some 30 students in attendance.
Then came the readings, telling the story of Jesus arriving to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (the Sunday prior) and following his story all the way to his resurrection. The readings weren’t from the Bible but were simplified for everyone to understand. It was not only a way for people who were raised in this tradition to experience their faith in the stories, but also for others to learn about it. The readings were easy to follow and clear in their story-lines, allowing for lots of room to reflect on what these stories mean in relation to how we as a culture celebrate and think of Easter.
There were then performances; Hannah Kim ’17 performed two songs on the piano—one of which was a hymn the audience was encouraged to sing along with, a spoken word piece performed by Kalkidan Amare ’18, and a dance performance by Oluchi Ebere ‘18. These performances were a way of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, which is the entire reason for Easter being celebrated.
At the end of the Community Reflection, Reverend Candido gave another speech about what Easter is and how it’s become something else. She talked about how we celebrate with baby chicks and bunny rabbits and candy. “The metaphor is clear, I get it,” she said, “but it’s about something more serious than that.” Reverend Candido went on to explain how Easter is about Jesus dying and coming back to life, and she’s right. It’s about so much more than candy and a creepy person in a creepier bunny costume at the mall. It’s about a miracle.
Regardless of whether or not you personally believe that Jesus rose from the dead, you have to admit that the idea alone and the power that it has had over the way the world has been shaped is rather incredible. For me, having been raised Catholic, I knew the traditions and the stories, but I never thought about how serious it was in juxtaposition with how trivial we’ve made the holiday. It’s something to think about.
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