For six hours on Thursday afternoon, white candles burned in Battell Chapel.
Commemorating the seventh anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the candles were part of an event that took the form of a service of reflection, in which members of the Yale community came and went, praying and meditating throughout Thursday afternoon.
Ever since the events of Sept. 11, schools across the country have struggled to find the best ways to move past the tragedy, said the Rev. Ian Oliver, pastor of the University Church.
“Every educational institution wrestled with how to help students worried about their families in New York with so little information for such a long period of time,” he said. Now, seven years later, the University is still trying to help students come to terms with the loss and suffering, he said.
This year, in lieu of speeches or a formal ceremony, administrators opted for a daylong period of reflection, University Chaplain Sharon Kugler said. Students were able to walk a path on a labyrinth drawn on a rug in the chapel and write personal thoughts in a book.
“We felt it appropriate that we at least designate some time and space for people to either pray, walk the labyrinth or write reflections in the book,” she said.
The event, after all, was organized to provide open time for those who wished to reflect, Oliver said.
“What’s nice about this space is you can approach it in your own individual way,” he said. Indeed, visitors to Battell Chapel lit candles, wrote in the book of reflections and walked the labyrinth. And some just sat quietly in the pews.
“I just felt really relaxed and at peace while I was in the chapel,” Hoan Huynh ’12 said. “It felt like I was with nature.”
And to David Edwards ’12, the service was simply about the tragedy.
“September 11 has had such a profound effect on this generation,” he said.
Commemorations of the attacks took place around the country Thursday, and presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain made a joint appearance at Ground Zero.