Sometimes Bethel College feels like the safest place on earth. Living in a quiet town with low crime, many students worry most about their next test.
Sadly, no community is immune from tragedy. Students and faculty alike were shaken with the news that one of our students had passed away in a car accident coming back from fall break. In my four years as a student here, this was the first time we had to receive an e-mail with this kind of news.
The Bethel community responded like only it could. An informal meeting was held in the freshman residence hall in remembrance of the student that night. I, like many students, chose to attend despite not ever having the pleasure of meeting Qadrey.
The lounge was so incredibly full that students spilled out into the foyer. Even more amazing was that it was not just students who attended. It was professors and faculty members as well. Many in attendance were not there because Qadrey had changed our lives. Instead we were there because Qadrey had changed the lives of people who had changed our lives and who we considered to be friends, neighbors and colleagues.
Losing a teammate, a roommate or a friend is devastating in itself. However, trying to cope with death alone can be unbearable. Whether it was the vice president humbling himself before students as he expressed his sorrow or teammates of Qadrey giving heartfelt testimony to her character, everyone who attended that night was made vulnerable by their own choice. In doing so, a community of strength developed like I have never seen in my life.
Tuesday night’s remembrance ceremony was followed with a chapel service dedicated to Qadrey on Wednesday morning. Neither Easter nor Christmas has ever brought the numbers and the energy to chapel that today’s service brought.
Gatherers once again featured people from all walks of life joining hands together because when a part of our community hurts, we all hurt. Strength is supposed to lie in numbers and we had lots of numbers in that chapel service (people standing in the aisles, in fact).
To me, our strength did not come from the number of people that attended either service. Instead, the strength produced was a result of people putting their own pride, pain and schedules to the side in order to provide a community for one another.
There is nothing that was done or could have been done that will erase what has happened but Bethel can take pride in providing an environment in which an energy developed that I hope will carry over throughout the year. Others’ needs were put first, kind words were abundant and all were allowed to display their emotions without worry of ridicule. I am proud to be a Bethel Thresher.
Oh death where is thy sting —