By Rachel Blood
Every time I have to introduce myself, there’s this moment of hesitation and mild panic. It’s not because I’m that introverted, though I did spend this weekend watching eleven consecutive episodes of “Jane the Virgin.” It’s because there are too many ways to explain my place in the world, and I can never decide which one is the most relevant.
“Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m…”
A sophomore English major, but who cares? Soraya’s roommate, because everybody knows Soraya? Or do you want to know my star sign? I hope not. Astrology is stupid. My Enneagram? My Hogwarts house?
All of these descriptors are accurate, but I don’t think any of them are enough. American courts make witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I don’t think these labels tell the whole truth. One word cannot encompass all the intricacies of the whole of something, so why do we give them so much weight?
Labels feel so conclusive, but I’ve never been a fan of conclusions. The last episode of a sitcom, the epilogue of a trilogy, the concluding sentence of the classic Bethel exegesis paper. I can never seem to wrap things up in a way that does justice to the time, the experience, the effort I gave, because relegating a significant period of time to a few words feels … wrong.
As this year comes to an end and I edit my final issue of the Clarion, none of the words I’m reaching for seem quite right.
This year, the Clarion covered growth and loss, joy and sorrow, celebration and controversy. This issue, seeking not to endorse labels but to reject them, addresses the conflicts between groupings imposed by society: Christian and LGBTQ+. Violent and faithful. Loser and winner. But it also celebrates the dedication of athletic trainers and the victories of athletes, artists and alumni in rejecting attempts to categorize their lives.
Our team has worked to tell the stories of the Bethel community in a way that is real and raw and beautiful, and I could not be more proud. It has been an honor to watch this publication and its contributors grow, and a privilege to grow myself. I have nothing but admiration and thankfulness for our staff, our freelancers, our adviser and most of all our sources, for allowing us to tell their stories in the best way we know how.
I do not think the Clarion and all the wonderful people who are a part of it can be defined by a single word. I do not think you can be defined by a single word. With that in mind, I encourage you to approach these stories seeking every side, all perspectives. Each one is so much more than words.
This issue contains themes of sexual assault, sexual harassment and suicide. They have been noted with an asterisk as a caution for sensitive readers. To the three individuals who shared with us their difficult experiences, thank you for your courage, time and honesty.