Spiritual Community and Growth at Lawrenceville
I can pinpoint the exact moment I realized that I wanted to spend my four years at Lawrenceville: My mom was bringing samosas—always a hit, she said—for the School’s annual Holi celebration organized by members of the Hindu Student Organization, including my older brother and cousins.
I can pinpoint the exact moment I realized that I wanted to spend my four years at Lawrenceville: My mom was bringing samosas—always a hit, she said—for the School’s annual Holi celebration organized by members of the Hindu Student Organization, including my older brother and cousins. At the time, I was a seventh-grader who had merely been dragged along, as siblings often are.
Wide-eyed with awe, I recall watching the girls scream “Holi hai!” at the conclusion of their Bollywood dance, immediately prompting hundreds of students to sprint to the middle of the Circle. The air turned into a mist of vibrant pinks, blues, reds, and greens. Soon, students emptied buckets filled with water on unsuspecting friends, and I immediately knew that the color would eventually stain people’s hair and faces for days. In that moment, I understood why Lawrenceville stands out.
At Lawrenceville, students do not solely find that their school respects and appreciates their background and culture. Rather, they are embraced by an entire community that will vivaciously celebrate it. Upon arriving at the School, I immersed myself in the then ‘chapel credit’ program. As I attended my first Episcopal mass, looking around to make sure I was on the right page, or came along to Jummah prayers with a friend from MSO, I developed a greater understanding of my peers’ religious philosophies as well as an appreciation for the power of faith as a whole. I began to feel God in different forms as I identified the principal themes present across all creeds. Ultimately, religious and spiritual life at Lawrenceville provided me with a community that has challenged and deepened my relationship with faith, and more importantly, taught me how I can employ my religious and spiritual perspectives to impact my community.
Every few weeks, I eagerly anticipated our Religious Life Council meetings. Munching on Rev’s famous cupcakes around the Harkness table, we would dive into topics including the symbolism of light, the importance of meditation, and the necessity for resilience. The discussions that have especially stayed with me are those in which we healed together, be it expressing our emotions about and planning vigils for the Tree of Life and Christ Church incidents, or struggling with hardship on campus in the wake of gross misconduct by a teacher. It was in these times that we leaned on one another, inspired each other, and felt supported by our community when we needed it most.
In the spring term of my II Form year, I helped lead the Strategic Review of Religious and Spiritual Life at Lawrenceville, an initiative to reform the chapel credit. By reflecting on the state of spiritual life at Lawrenceville from the varying perspectives of students, I learned valuable lessons about how to deepen my spiritual intelligence and my responsibilities as a community member. Ultimately, we expanded the program to create Explorations, which incorporates diversity and contemplation alongside religious ones and especially emphasizes education and engagement.
Religious and spiritual life showed me early on that, at Lawrenceville, students can collaborate to make lasting contributions, supported by an entire village in the process. Seeing the impact of Explorations, further taught me that, as members of this community, we are not only able to, but rather we have the obligation to leave Lawrenceville better than we found it. To seek the best in each to seek the best for all. And this extends beyond the School community: A theme that continues to surface in our Religious Life Council meetings is the historical connection between faith and social justice. We must persist in striving to make our mark on our local and global communities, as well.
As I sit here editing our virtual Holi Explorations film, I never could’ve foreseen my time at Lawrenceville ending this way. Yet, at the same time, I am reminded of the resilience and vibrancy of the Lawrenceville community and overwhelmed by immense gratitude to be a part of it for the rest of my life, beyond Lawrenceville: a community that comes together despite adversities and energetically embraces differences in faith, beliefs, background, and ideas. And in this moment, I forget about the prom dress untouched in my closet, the fact that I’ll be graduating over a webinar, and even that the last memory of high school classes will be hitting “Leave Meeting” on Zoom. All that matters is the color that splashes across the Circle, now across my screen, because it reminds me that Lawrenceville isn’t ending like this: This isn’t the end of a journey because the friendship, community, and lessons along the way will last a lifetime.