I was asked to write a statement about how the vandalism to the chapel impacted me, I added some about the impact on the community as a whole, but this is what I have submitted.
I am part of the chapel community or as I like to call it the chapel family. I have been a part of this community since I stepped foot on campus my first year and I have come to love and be loved by those who call the chapel home. The chapel for me was and is a safe place to go. It has been a refuge in times of heartache and a place where I can simply be in the presence of God without fear or worry.
Saturday morning I received many messages from my brothers and sisters in the chapel community. I was sent pictures, I had people driving to my house and I eventually to campus to be those who were deeply hurt by what they found Saturday morning. Our house, the chapel, is an open space. It is a space where one can go and be who they are without worry of judgment. In our house we have a table where we gather to share a simple meal, sharing the bread and passing the cup serving one another. To find our table desecrated was heartbreaking, angering, and sorrow.
In our house, we have many pews, our form of a chair. In these pews I have held friends, been held by friends, and often times sat alone having arguments with myself and God. The questions left on our chairs Friday evening hurt many members of my family. They caused pain, they caused us to feel violated, they caused me to think about the time I have spent in silent reflection sitting in those seats. In our house we have one of the most simple and beautiful stained glass windows where we can sit and see the sun shine through and penetrate a dark place in our home and often times in our lives. To find black crosses, upside down beside an image that brings light into the darkest places of my own faith journey made me angry. It upset me that darkness seemed to have a hold of our house. Thankfully I remembered that darkness does not overcome the light.
The fear and worry I had came from a place of not knowing why the chapel, a home for many, was desecrated. What had my family done to bring this about? What could we have done to prevent it? Are we safe in our own home. These questions are not just mine, but have been echoed by my brothers and sisters over the last few days. In the end I am thankful that if it had to happen, it happened to a community that stands on love. For I fear other groups, communities, or families on campus may have acted out of revenge of some sort.
I am still hurt when I think back to what we found on Saturday morning, but I am not angry, I am not vengeful. I have hope because love of neighbor has won. I have faith that the chapel is a sacred and safe space regardless of what took place Friday evening. I am proud that my family of brothers and sisters has come together in support for one another in a very uncertain time for us. But I do wonder if anyone- besides our family- noticed the pain? Did a thought cross the mind of the person who entered our home and violated our space of how it would affect us?
In the end our feelings of being violated and having our home vandalized effected each of us differently, for me it was a feeling of violation and as if my home were no longer welcoming. For some the space still feels that way. But we stand together as a community and a family ready to move on and continue being love to this campus.