Jilly Mehlman

What is a life worth living?

Standing by a small folding table on Cross Campus, wielding pens and smiles, members of the Life Worth Living Fellowship, a secular 13-member fellowship supported by the Yale Divinity School’s Center for Faith and Culture, asked students passing by to write notes of gratitude to their loved ones as part of its annual Gratitude Week program.

“We want to ask students to take time out of their busy day to reflect on something that they’re grateful for,” said Caitlin Dermody ’18, the fellowship’s president. “By asking students to think about what they’re grateful for, we’re really hoping to get more people to ask questions about what makes for a good life.”

The fellowship’s Gratitude Week program, which will end this Friday, is designed to promote personal, philosophical dialogue about the meaning of a flourishing life, Dermody said.

Members of the group promised the students who wrote letters that their messages would be delivered free of charge. In addition to letters of gratitude, the fellowship asked students to write small notes of appreciation on leaf-shaped paper slips, which were taped onto a tree poster.

“We give students the option to write either a full letter or a small leaf-shaped note,” said Fiona Riebeling ’18, a member of the Life Worth Living Fellowship. “We want to provide a space for students to feel at some level of peace in the lead-up to exams.”

The fellowship is linked to the “Life Worth Living” course, which the Humanities major has hosted since 2014. In addition to holding guest lectures and organizing programming such as Gratitude Week, the fellowship holds an annual weekend retreat for Yale students in the fall.

Despite the poor weather over the past few days, members of the student-led organization said they are thrilled with the number of letters written so far and hope to top the results from last year’s Gratitude Week.

“Everything is going great. I think we have a good shot at surpassing last year’s number of letters,” said Kellen Silver ’20, a member of the fellowship. “Last year, we received over 200 letters, which were addressed to 28 different countries.”

The fellowship will hold this year’s weekend retreat from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5.

Christopher Sung | christopher.sung@yale.edu