On Easter Sunday, I decided to go to the Protestant service offered at our school. Unlike others who were in attendance, I am not a strict Christian. I do not attend church on a regular basis, and rarely read the bible or pray.
But, this year I decided to attend the service in an attempt to uphold my so-called Christian faith at least for one day in the year. Despite not knowing specific books or characters of the Bible, I was still able to follow along with the sermon and readings. I greatly enjoyed the service, as I thought it offered a chance to reaffirm and practice my faith.
Growing up, I went to Sunday School every Sunday, and occasionally afterwards I would attend the adult service. I had a strong relationship with people who served at my Church. The minister was more than a liaison between a higher power; he was also a family friend. Some people in the choir assisted with Sunday School, and I came to respect them as religious and spiritual educators. Through my faith, I found comfort and community.
As I grew older and came to Andover, however, I started to value other things above my faith. Slowly, church moved down my list of priorities, falling behind Sunday lacrosse games and homework that needed to be completed. My church visits dwindled to only twice a year, on Christmas and Easter.
Last Sunday was my first time attending a service offered by the school this year. After two terms of not attending church, I realized that I had lost the comfortable space for reflection that I had always found through practicing faith and religion.
Throughout the Easter service, I remembered the significantly positive impact religion can have on our lives. Practicing faith serves as a respite from our hectic schedules in which students and followers have time to reflect and focus on things other than their lives. It can be a great help in promoting well being and building community among believers.
I find, however, that religion at Andover is often overlooked as a possible way to take time for ourselves. Among peers, I have found that many do not see faith as a way of being healthy or feeling comfort. When we discuss mental health or well being, we often only think of the new health center or talking to counselors – rather than the great number of religious services that could help students as well.
Even though I am not a strict follower of Christianity, I believe that students at Andover who are loosely religious like me could benefit greatly from attending the services offered here, or doing something spiritual. Our school must do more to encourage students who have a faith to maintain it, as it is beneficial to one’s mental and spiritual well-being. Andover’s advocacy of meditation should extend to including religion and faith as a helpful way to find calm and peace.
Students who have ties with specific religions, I believe, must also take it upon themselves to make time for their religion. I often forget how Church can be a sanctuary from our lives here, but after I do something spiritual I remember how nice it is to have religion in my life, even if very infrequently. Religion offers me a break from my busy life, a chance to step back and appreciate my surroundings. Even going to that one Easter Sunday Service reminded me of how beneficial having a faith can be for forgetting about stress and imminent assignments and letting me focus on the present instead.