Timely, sometimes tough, questions and insights from NAES and Episcopal school leaders on leadership, governance, Episcopal identity, community life, and other issues.
Connections Between Chapel, Spirituality, and the Classroom
There is an endless possibility with art,
and I believe God looks individually at us
and sees that same potential. I believe God is the artist of life
and we are individually created
as some of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures.
This is a quote from one 8th-grade boy who offered a homily on “Art and Spirituality” in our middle school chapel. Art has been a way for him to discover the gifts that God has endowed him with and to understand his relationship to God. This connection between spirituality and education is at the heart of Dr. Lisa Miller’s work at the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education based at Columbia Teachers College. Her research has encouraged me to find more ways to bring out the spiritual and religious dimensions of our students. One way in which we have done this at Campbell Hall is through our chapel program, where we are helping our students make connections between the subjects that interest them and their spiritual life.
When students discover a subject they are passionate about, it has the ability to help them to see the world with a sense of awe and wonder. A 6th-grade boy reflected in chapel on his love of science by saying, “In science there is always a new challenge and something new to do and that is what keeps it interesting.” He went on to connect the Bible message from Isaiah to his homily by saying that, “it reminds me of how God’s ways are more spectacular than our ways and this connects to my love of science because with science you can understand so much, but there’s always so much more you can’t understand.” When students realize that there is so much they don’t know, they are tapping into the mystery and sacredness of life.
When young people find a subject they love, it can open up opportunities for them to express some of their deepest feelings. One 8th-grader expressed this in the “Spirituality and Dance” chapel when she reflected on the verse “You turned my sadness into dancing” from Psalm 31. She said “I find freedom in the expression of dance that I haven’t found in anything else. I can lose myself in the music, the movements, and the performance.” The freedom she experiences when dancing allows her to become the person God created her to be.
The opportunities to connect a student’s passions and interests with their classroom experiences are unlimited because, as Lisa Miller says, “Students are born with an inherent spirituality.” What a privilege it is to be the adults in the lives of our children as they begin to discover that inborn and God given spirituality.
The Rev. Canon Norman S. Hull is Chaplain at Campbell Hall in Studio City, CA.
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