By Michael “Graduating Bear” Zehr
As we near the end of an era here at Goshen College, I can’t help but reflect on the past four years I’ve spent as a GC student; a stoic yet fierce maple leaf I have been. In four years’ time, I’ve seen a lot go down on campus, and off. As a departing senior, I like to consider myself somewhat of a veteran of this institute, especially of getting away with stuff (sort of).
I’ve always been proud of my dabbling in chapel. If you’ll recall, earlier this year I wrote a funnies article boasting of a “thought experiment” to see what a semester without chapel would do to my mental, emotional, and spiritual state. Later, I learned a lesson from karma’s playbook about how it is always wrong to brag, realizing that I was indeed not exempt from attendance. However, if four years in the biology department has taught me anything, it’s that even when your idea for an experiment is destined for failure from the get go, you still have to b.s. a conclusion for the paper.
Soooooo. Conclusions, conclusions, hmmmmm……Well, first I should share that on Tuesday, I was invited to attend a “facilitated group discussion” about the merits and failures of chapel and convo. I suppose they invited me because I’m somewhat of a local expert on the subject, having gathered so much data for my experiment. One thing I learned while there: apparently, chapel and convocation are two completely different things: convo’s dealing with more of a range of topics and chapel’s sticking to the Christian faith. Who knew? To make things easy, however, I will still refer to the two unique events as one unit for the rest of this article, using the word “convapel.”
In all seriousness, the discussion was an eye-opening view into the behind the scenes work of convapel and a chance to hear from new faces. Originally, I only went to the meeting for free pizza, but I left feeling somewhat inspired and also regretful. I do honestly regret having only gone to one convapel this semester, and not just because of the paper I have to write to make up for my deficits.
Convapel is a time for reflection. It forces us to think about topics potentially not brought to our attention otherwise. I love hearing stories shared by friends during SST convo’s, not to mention the gentle lull of Grant Miller’s voice during a hymn sing. Even if you are not captivated by the day’s topic convapel is still a social time, a chance to goof around with friends or maybe get some studying done.
What is it that makes GC students so special? To me, it’s that dimension of awareness of the world around them and their willingness to engage the societal problems they see head-on with hopeand compassion. I think that convapel is a huge part of shaping students into the informed people they are, even if sometimes, it kind of feels like a punishment.
To conclude, it seems that maybe I would have been better off not skipping convapel. I didn’t really do anything significant with that extra two hours each week anyways, besides sleep and procrastinate. In the end, I contend that convapel doesn’t really suck that bad, in fact, it’s actually pretty cool. Do yourself a favor Goshen peeps; stop griping about convapel and just embrace it.