Over the entire course of my first year at HDS, I would say that the Multireligious Service of Thanksgiving was the event that captured HDS in a nutshell. Yes, the invocations, readings, and benedictions from varied religious and spiritual traditions contributed to that feel of HDS—a reading from the Lotus Sutra followed immediately by one from the Qur’an, a benediction from the Humanist tradition followed by a prayer by Thomas Merton. HDS is a place where people of multiple traditions not only exist alongside each other, but also interact with one another on a regular basis. But those varied readings alone were not what made the service seem exquisitely HDS. It was also many other, perhaps less obvious things—like the streamers. Continue reading
“Don’t be afraid to let yourself be human, Jen.”
These wise words from one of my HDS advisors have come back to me again and again throughout my second year here at HDS. Throughout my time here, I have experienced firsthand that while HDS is full of some of the most talented and highly productive people you may meet, it is also grounded in an incredibly supportive community. Over our three years of Divinity School in the MDiv program, we are asked, constantly, to do it all: complete multiple intensive, transformative internships; read more pages than ever possible each week; develop strong and lasting relationships with friends and colleagues; network and realize our future plans; go to all of the lectures and all of the events taking place across this great university. The opportunities for education and exploration truly are endless here, not to mention the amazing people you’ll meet along the way.
If a year and a half ago someone had told me I would soon be in Divinity School, I would have thought two things: 1. “Here is someone who doesn’t understand that you can do something with a Religious Studies major besides become ordained” and 2. “That is not in my plan.”
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I see Harvard Divinity School as a spiritual community, within which there are many distinct spiritual communities. HDS is full of kind, caring, altruistic people, because that’s who the school attracts. Classmates, faculty, and staff have all ministered to me and supported me through difficult times. I often have conversations with people that inspire or challenge me to be my best self (like a good sermon). The Divinity School, like we say at my church, is “a place where we practice being human.”
Community Tea on Tuesday afternoons is like “Coffee Hour” at church to me. It’s when Continue reading
The notion of ‘fit’ was central to both my excitement and trepidation before arriving at HDS this fall. I knew from perusing the course websites and extracurricular offerings that, formally at least, Harvard Divinity School would be the ‘right’ place for me. I was more than ready to dive into the enriching array of learning opportunities that stood before me, both within and outside of the classroom.
I will admit that I was very nervous about being asked to write about my experience of pluralism at HDS. My first thought was, “what do I have to offer to this? I’m Catholic; quick, grab a Muslim, a Pagan, a Humanist, anyone but me!” After thinking on what it is like to be a student here at HDS, I can say that it has been an immense time of growth for me. I have chanted with Buddhists, been silent with Quakers, high-fived over commonalities with Episcopalians and burst into tears of frustration over impassioned theological debates. Continue reading