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  • Katie Buerger

Re-Centering While At Case Western...

The first few weeks of college have already flown by! As the school year begins again, I found myself gradually drifting more and more into the tumult of assignments, essays, projects, friends, dates, and (of course) weekend outings. This is not necessarily unusual, but as the semester progresses I know it will get worse. Suddenly it will get harder to make time for what’s important: making that call home, getting outside to take a walk… It’s easy to lose track of everything I need to do, nevermind my own values. It’s also easy to “lose track of” God in your life amidst the noise of the day-to-day. For me at least, this necessitates taking a moment free from the chaos of college life to re-center myself. Whether it’s a sacred place or somewhere quiet to get away into His presence, below is a list of my favorite spiritual spots around campus:

Courtyard Behind Harkness Chapel

Tucked behind Harkness Chapel, there is a small courtyard in between Clark and Mather Memorial. Secluded from the main routes to and from the quad, it acts as a kind of resting place. Although sparse––with only a few park benches and picnic tables next to parking lot 54––it has more to offer than just a seat. While this place behind forgotten buildings could have been ugly, the walls of the former chapel (and its quaint stained-glass windows) add an element of the sacred to this corner. The most notable part of the courtyard, however, is not stained-glass, but rather the presence of a large, venerable oak on the left side of the courtyard. Practically breaking up the bricking at its feet, it lifts sturdy limbs skyward as a reminder to appreciate what God (and life) gives, bringing a sense of gentleness to the otherwise hardened solitude of cement and brick.

Walkways Behind the Medical School

Although lesser-known to the non-health-fields student, there are a number of paths around and behind the Case medical and nursing buildings. These paved pathways pass another of Case’s infamous abstract statues as well as a number of different garden beds and landscaped areas. A little bit off the beaten path for many, the paths can be very peaceful and are well-suited for walking meditations. Although not extensive in length, they can afford a small respite from the rush to and from classes, a place to re-orient your mind in what is still good.

Labyrinth and Healing Garden at the Seidman Cancer Center

Labyrinths are well-known for their use in meditative practices. The labyrinth of the Seidman Cancer Center (located to the left of the main entrance of the Seidman Cancer Center) is no exception to this. While the healing garden is relatively small in size (mostly being comprised of the labyrinth itself) the red-and-gray stone labyrinth is not. The traditional serpentine path is long enough to offer plenty of time for slow steps and contemplation, and the views surrounding the labyrinth are appealing: The street is cut off by landscaping, and the towers of the Church of the Covenant are just visible above it. Although the Seidman Cancer Center looms over the tiny garden, the tranquility of this “oasis” amongst the uptown businesses and the hospital complexes overcomes all else.

Church of the Covenant

No, not at the Sunday service, although that is also a time and place of worship––this is a place that can be taken advantage of by a person of any religion: The Church of the Covenant holds office hours during the week that leave the sanctuary open to anyone in need of a space for prayer, meditation, or solitude & quiet contemplation. When left with the lights off, the sanctuary is illuminated by only the sun through the stained-glass windows and the large rose window above the altar. In the evening, the effects can be particularly humbling as shadows begin to fill in arches and cover the pews. The hush of this sacred, stone-defined space takes on greater meaning in contrast to the sound of your own breaths. During such times as these, the sanctuary has an entirely different character from that of its formal services – and the presence of God is all-encompassing.

Lakeview Cemetery

A number of people are under the impression that cemeteries are places to avoid; that cemeteries are “creepy.” I, personally, disagree with this since I have always found cemeteries to be beautiful areas, filled with natural life (and death). Lakeview is no exception to this. A huge cemetery, it has everything from celebrities to history and castle-like mausoleums. However, the overarching feature of Lakeview is its peace: Even in its proximity to uptown, it does not feel like it exists in a city at all; instead, the park-like paths are a respite from all the business. The cemetery (open 7:30am–7:30pm, summer, –5:30pm, winter) is accessible just past the train station on Euclid, or past the top of the hill on Mayfield.

UH Atrium

This spot is not for everyone – I know for many (myself included) that just the hospital smell alone is enough to invoke unpleasant memories. However, the hospital is a place of work for large numbers of people, the same as a school or an office building. Keeping this in mind, the atrium is a surprisingly peaceful place (especially during off-times when it’s empty)––a refuge amidst the huge complex of hospital buildings. The high ceilings and skylights draw the eye upwards to discover sparrows in the rafters, while tables and shops are set in amongst a “jungle” of warmer-climate plants and sculptures. Air-conditioned in the summer and warm in the winter, the clean design affords few distractions from taking a moment to breathe.

Sources: all photography credited to Katie Buerger

About Spiritual Potpourri

This blog is written by me, Katie Buerger (unless noted otherwise) and maintained by UPCaM@Case. I am a current sophomore at CWRU, and have been an UPCaM member since my first year. Because I am Spiritual Potpourri’s exclusive writer, this means the opinions and perspectives given in blog posts are limited to my views. I think myself to be open-minded, but I am human. I do research my topics (all the sources are listed at the bottom of each post), but I ultimately can only write from my perspective as a Christian. I try to write to a general audience (not exclusively to Christians), but I do at times make assumptions about the knowledge of my readers. However, I would like to assert that my views are not representative of UPCaM’s or Christianity’s – they are mine alone.

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