Chronicling the “Course of Life"

A Lebensläufe Tradition Begins at the Upper School
You may not call it a lebensläufe, but chances are you’ve practiced this Moravian tradition at least once in your life. For the second year in a row, sophomores have connected with each other and with the past by following the Moravian tradition of writing a lebensläufe, or “course of life.”

“It was Count Zinzendorf, founder of the early Moravian community, who encouraged Moravians to keep written journals detailing an awareness of their personal religious and spiritual journeys,” explains English teacher Dr. Catherine Moore. “The lebensläufe was to be a daily ecclesiastical discipline practiced by every resident of the original, small Moravian community.”

While the project, initiated by the Upper School Diversity Committee, doesn’t emphasize a spiritual autobiographical tone, it does offer a student the chance to examine and share the important moments of life.

“Chapel is the perfect place to share this kind of writing,” explains All School Chaplain Rev. Jennifer Nichols. “Students and faculty speak about their identity, personhood, and the process of becoming. They find commonality and connection. They talk about failure and forgiveness and starting again.”

The project included a series of themed chapels—“Being 16,” “Adventure,” and “Generations”—and featured faculty and students in all grades. The result was that we not only learned more about the speakers, but also about our community, Rev. Nichols explains.

“These stories resonate far beyond the person who wrote them. They highlight common experience, common struggle, and common joy. Students and faculty alike recognize the value of this deep sharing, this glimpse that we give each other into our mutual humanity. There is laughter, of course, because often the stories themselves are funny. But there have also been tears and occasionally that kind of deep silence in the room that reflects a profound truth being shared.”

Lebensläufe chapel themes are planned to change year to year, but the exercise in relating to each other and reflecting on oneself will remain.

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