IWU Meditation Room becomes multi-faith

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Cayley Rydzinski, Staff Writer

This past Thursday, August 27, Illinois Wesleyan University students and faculty dedicated the newly remodeled, and now multi-faith, Meditation Room.

The proceedings opened with a composition entitled Prayer written by senior David Flowers, in which he hoped that everyone would be able to “find a moment of peace in this new space.”

President Wilson then took the floor to convey why he believed that this space resonated so well with Illinois Wesleyan. He called the space “an endorsement of multi-faith work on this campus” and that it “was a concrete example of what it means to be diverse and inclusive.”

It continues the university’s mission to welcome and be open to all students. After President Wilson spoke, alumna, Lisa Mishra stepped forward and recalled a passage from the Bhagavad Gita that motivated her during the time she spent working on this project.

Mishra said that she had to stop seeking the end goal and not let her effort eclipse the mission, and she spearheaded the process to remodel the Meditation Room. “It is a culmination of years of work and a perfect ending to my time at Illinois Wesleyan,” she said.

Mishra recounted her motivation to work towards a multi-faith space came from “an acute awareness of the lack of non-Christian spaces on campus” and that the new space is “intentionally left bare” to allow anyone feel comfortable within it.

Kevin Strandberg, the artist behind the new space and director of Illinois Wesleyan’s School of Art, described his inspiration behind the water imagery used in the glasswork. “Water cleanses and purifies and is used by architects to create a calming atmosphere,” he said. His glasswork found in the Multi-Faith Meditation Room is intended to mimic this effect.

Although it was not possible to see in the evening, the glasswork will reflect different shades of blue and purple as ambient lighting conditions change. The effect is meant to resonate with the effects of water in a space where additions involving plumbing are not possible.

“The Meditation Room was born out of our students’ genuine, righteous longing for a set apart place, a refuge on this campus. It is a living space that is now genuinely open for all,” said Elyse Nelson Winger, Wesleyan’s chaplain.

Afterwards, student representatives of various faiths and non-faiths across campus dedicated and read passages from books that would become part of the Meditation Room’s interfaith library.

Everyone then moved to the Meditation Room itself where President Wilson, Lisa Mishra, Elyse Winger and Kevin Strandberg each took turns cutting the ribbon. People were then allowed to enter the room once they removed their shoes, as everyone will be required to do before entering the space.

Even though the room itself has the same dimensions of its predecessor, its new design gives the illusion of a much larger space. Cushions, chairs and a shoe rack will be included very soon to make the space even more welcoming.

The Multi-faith Meditation Room is in its last phase of finishing touches and should be completely finished very soon. It is available for student use during the same hours as the Memorial Center, where it is located. Students will be able to reserve time slots by emailing [email protected]