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Celebrating together during Family Weekend

A Report by Sofia Walker '11

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life holds a Multi-Faith Service on the Sunday of Parents Weekend. This year, Hanna Meghji '11 (pictured above) read at the service.

What do spoken word poetry, bluegrass music, and the Qur'an have in common? They were all featured at the Multi-Faith Celebration that took place during Family Weekend. The event, which featured music and readings from sources both sacred and secular, was led by Dean Jennifer Walters, but students were an integral part of creating and performing the program.

After an organ prelude and an invocation of peace, the service opened with the hymn "Morning has broken," and then moved on to an excerpt from the Kena Upanishads. Though many pearls of wisdom gleamed through the meditations and readings, one of the overarching themes of the celebration was love. Jennifer Walters read from Paul's letter to the Corinthians, a passage whose concluding verse says that "now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." Her meditation focused on the overwhelming love she had seen between parents and their children over the weekend, and enjoined us to extend that love beyond the bounds of family.

Atema Addy '14 and Hanna Meghji '11 recited from the Qur'an, and Hanna also treated us to one of her own compositions, a poem about dreams, youth, and the refusal to conform to low expectations. The service was rounded out with a performance of the song "I'll Fly Away" by Abbie Alexander '13 and Birgitta Hendron '13, and their friends.

Birgitta's mother Kris, visiting from Washington state, was enthusiastic about the celebration. "I'm just so jazzed," she said, "it was lovely." Another parent, Valerie, was also pleased, saying she felt it was a truly open and welcoming spiritual space. "I'm so glad my daughter is exposed to the variety of guises that spirituality can assume. Approaching worship through multi-faith really goes to the core of different traditions, and makes you see them as spirituality, not just religion. Plus, there's music!"

The beautiful range of beliefs and wisdom offered during Family Weekend is just one more instance of the welcoming, celebratory nature of spirituality at Smith.