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the last word  

Stained glass

The Many Faces
of Spirituality at
Albright

When do you feel most fully
yourself? Most alive? Most
centered? Most connected to
something larger than yourself?

"This journey of
examination to
deepen spiritual life
or life purpose is an
outcome of the way
a liberal arts
education brings
together many
different fields and
perspectives and
integrates them into
a whole."

"...spiritual life is
also deepened by
the invitation to
wonder..."

For many Albright students these answers are organized around a religious faith. For almost as many their answers focus on a purpose with no direct connection to religion but one to which provides guidance and meaning.

As students learn to think in more complex, nuanced, and critical ways, many of our courses also encourage students to direct their thinking toward themselves and their spiritual lives. They are often reluctant to do this; it is uncomfortable to go through the uncertain time that occurs while one is examining oneself and one's purposes and values. However, the examination most often leads to a deeper commitment, a commitment that is fought for and won by the student and "theirs" in a way that can stand the battering of life's surprises.

This journey of examination to deepen spiritual life or life purpose is an outcome of the way a liberal arts education brings together many different fields and perspectives and integrates them into a whole. So spiritual life at Albright is involved in all the ways that we integrate the education of our students, both classroom education and the education that occurs in residential life and student organizations.

The religious expressions of spiritual life are visible in worship services, Bible studies and cultural groups. Albright offers Catholic Eucharist, Gospel-style worship, and meditative singing and prayer each week.

A local United Methodist congregation may bring their evening praise band worship onto campus for the benefit of students. Hillel organizes both cultural and religious events for students who practice or are interested in learning about Judaism. Bible studies are led by students, the chaplain, and a seminary student associate to the chaplain. Albright Christian Fellowship has brought in Christian grunge bands in the past year and the Gospel Ensemble has started regular Holy Ghost parties. Students also participate in eight to 10 different congregations in the area. There are many religious forms of spiritual life.

But spiritual life is also deepened by the invitation to wonder (about bats, economic trends, human behavior, an elegant solution to a problem…) and that occurs every day in our classrooms. Spiritual life is deepened by being challenged to take responsibility for oneself and one's actions, by learning to cooperate with persons who are very different, by managing time, by becoming a leader. And spiritual life is fostered in our most cooperative ventures, our sports teams and our musical ensembles as individuals play a specific role that contributes and coordinates with a larger whole.

An examined life, an integrated life, a purposeful life is a spiritual life. It is one of the most precious fruits of a liberal arts education.

As the chaplain at Albright College, it is my job to see that this fruit is ripened and picked for all to experience.

Rev. Dr. Cathie Kelsey is the chaplain and director of the Multifaith Center at Albright College.

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