Christmas has always spun the same humdrum images of families in tacky Christmas sweaters and Instagram-worthy dinners with hashtags that are optimised for maximum amount of ‘likes’. More or less, we’ve reached peak commercialisation for Christmas — tell me which major religious holiday isn’t (yes I know, there’s a bunch holidays you could name). Still we’ve had the glamorisation of togetherness and world peace plastered on the billboards, television screens and social media feeds since mid-October. However I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to be limited to those three months.
The Faith Space at Park Campus is a special place. It’s where the religiously devoted and stress-prone come together to take refugee from the daily grind. Mind and spirit are encouraged to wander around, or if you’re shameless enough to do it: take a nap on one of the couches. There’s very little pretensions of it being religious — besides the sign. Everyone is welcome: free tea, coffee and biscuits are provided; board games; newspapers; lots of electrical plugs; a piano and guitar.
The main four highlights of Faith Space at Park — personally — that I believe makes it a wonderful place is:
- The ever so lovely Jo Parkin who runs the place: she’s a woman who spreads joy and happiness whenever you get the time to chat with her. She’s the soul and heart of the Park Faith Space as she brings a feeling of togetherness amongst groups of people. A patient listener, offering sage advice; Jo is a good person to see if personal difficulties are hard to overcome — and recommends the wellbeing team if you need more guided help.
- Atique Miah, the university’s Muslim Chaplain who’s usually at Park Campus on Wednesdays and Fridays: a cheerful fella who has a tendency to compliment things you hadn’t noticed about yourself. A firm believer of positive thinking; Atique — like Jo — is also a patient listener and advice giver, but usually says it from personal experience whilst growing up. He’s good to talk to.
- The Prayer Room: The main highlight of the Faith Space; the prayer room is extremely unorthodox in nature as it emphasises on multi-religious use. Modular in its design and aesthetically neutral — all faiths are welcome to use the room for prayers or meditations.
- Les pièces de résistance — the blue window in the prayer room. The glass came from the original chapel that stood at Park Campus. Found in a garage somewhere; it’s hard to describe the significance of this particular window, except the phrase: it’s very holy, indeed. More art installation than window. This particular glass embodies the peaceful nature that the Faith Space represents. Especially, at the right time of day, the sunlight hits the glass and casts a mesmerised sequence of blues and greens. Useful when you’re trying to have a deeper connection with god. Or to forget how broke I am and all the nice things I want to buy. Still the sense of inner-peace does help soothe my anxious soul.
If you need a break from reality, just stop by the Faith Space and chill for a bit. There’s an event everyday, if you want meet some new people. Mental and spiritual exhaustion can hinder your ability to go through life easily – Especially at times when deadlines are due — it helps for you to step back, reflect and understand that insignificance of each task that may seem over-whelming.