October 12, 2023 | NEWS | By Adelaide Olberding
On Tuesday, Colorado College students and staff gathered in the labyrinth on the south side of Shove Memorial Chapel. As the breeze rustled the surrounding trees and the sounds of Intramural soccer echoed across the quad, Chaplain Kate Holbrook led the CC community through mindfulness exercises to reflect on the impacts of the Israel-Hamas War.
“This is just one space that we can hold together as a community,” Holbrook said. In the coming weeks, “there are going to be other spaces on campus, spaces for discussion, spaces for protest, and spaces for conversation.”
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, fired thousands of rockets into Israel on Saturday. Israel responded by declaring war on Hamas the following day and firing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
These events are the latest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has spanned the last seven decades. The conflict centers on Israel’s demands for security in what they refer to as a hostile region and Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own.
The latest violence has caused more than 1,200 deaths in Israel and approximately 1,055 deaths in Gaza, as of Wednesday, as reported by CNN.
These are the highest annual fatalities the conflict has seen since 2014, during which there were 2329 Palestinian fatalities and 88 Israeli fatalities.
“We acknowledge this war impacts members of our community in various ways,” Colorado College said in an Instagram statement. “We hope for comfort for those who are grieving, healing for those who are wounded and relief for those who are sick with worry over missing loved ones.”
Holbrook hoped Tuesday’s event would “create space for people to be present to their hearts and all that’s stirring within them.”
Event attendees included approximately 50 people, with both students and staff in attendance. The audience included a portion of the President’s Cabinet, including President L. Song Richardson herself.
The space “doesn’t presume any belief or any thought but [exists] rather to be present to the fact that there is a lot of emotion right now,” Holbrook said.
Holbrook believes taking this pause is important because there are many community members who have “family connections or other heart connections” to the conflict, making it hard to “be present to one’s emotions, whether its anger, sadness or rage.”
“When incomprehensible terrible things are happening in our world if we don’t create the space, it gets all twisted up in us,” said Chris Heckenkamp ’24 who attended the event. “It is important to not let events destroy our connection with each other.”
Regarding the ongoing conflict itself, Heckenkamp said, “Do I understand it fully? No, I don’t, but I am learning.”
CC is encouraging students to educate themselves on the unfolding of these events, as well as seek resources for self and communal care.