‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.’
On Education – Albert Einstein
It seems pretty obvious to ask a School Chaplain to write a reflection on school chaplaincy. However, in some way, I feel that I am even less qualified to write something about this now – with the little experience I have – than I was a term ago, without any experience. So I asked myself the question: what would I hope that pupils, and staff for that matter, remember when they think about the chaplaincy at Marlborough College a good few years after they have left? What remains after they have forgotten what was actually said?
The first association I hope people would have when they think back, is the feeling that they were welcome. That the Chapel was a place where they could go, just to sit, just to be. And that the chaplain was a person who was welcoming too. Someone they could talk to, someone who was interested, and maybe most of all, someone who cared. Not someone who cared about how good they were, or even how religious, but who cared about them, and the things they cared about.
That leads me then to the second aspect that I hope people would have noticed about the chaplaincy, and that is that everyone is welcome as they are. One’s teenage years are a time to discover who you are, to discover what it means to flourish as a human being, to realise the potential you have and how to bring this potential to fruition. Amidst the many pressures that young people experience, the chaplaincy can offer a place where there is no expectation, where you can be who you are and realise that you are welcomed, loved and wanted exactly for who you are. Knowing this, I think, is the key to knowing who you truly are.
There is not much mention of the word ‘God’ in the paragraphs above, and I think that is also characteristic for school chaplaincy. I guess many of us have heard the stories of how off-putting public school religion was, and it is the reason a good number of people never went back to Church. Chaplaincy is therefore, I would suggest, not trying to tell what God is like, but trying to show what God is like, of course acknowledging our own limitations in this as well.
Lastly, I would be interested to know what people remember of their own school chaplaincy, if anything. So, please don’t hesitate to let me know!