Morning Prayers: Cara Jacobson ’18 finds belonging in an unexpected place

Morning Prayers service with speaker Cara Jacobson ‘18, Harvard College, Harvard University Choir Secretary, May 2, 2018.Harvard University Choir Secretary Cara Jacobson ’18 speaks on the last Morning Prayers of Spring Term 2018 about keeping open to the ideals of community, love, and compassion. Photo by Jeffrey Blackwell/Memorial Church Communications.



Good Morning! Thank you so much for having me.

I would like to begin with a reading from John 15, verse 12:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

As someone who is Jewish from Long Island New York the last place I expected to spend every single morning of college was at church.  I have my mother to thank for this.

I remember my mom discovering the University Choir during Visitas.  She said “Cara! This looks like a phenomenal opportunity! You can get paid to sing!” I replied, “But Mom, it’s a church choir… That’s not my thing.  I don’t belong at church!”

I cannot believe how wrong I was.

When I finally arrived at Harvard, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of student groups that were offered.  I auditioned for a play through Common Casting, and it was a disaster.  I comped clubs that I am no longer a member of.  And somehow, in the midst of my chaotic first days, my mother succeeded in encouraging me to audition for UChoir.  “Keep an open mind” she said. “I think that this can be a wonderful group to be a part of”.  Thank God for my mother…

After my first Sunday service as a member of the Harvard University Choir I knew my mom was right.  Not only had I joined an exceptional choir, but, as a member of Memorial Church, I had also joined an exceptional community.

Over these last 4 years, the Memorial Church has been a source of support for me.  When Professor Walton asks us to “pass the peace” at Sunday Service my concerns dissolve as the sanctuary balcony is filled with smiles and hugs.  I have found comfort here during some pretty bad days.  And in the wake of some of the recent worldwide tragedies, the church has provided me reason to be hopeful and optimistic. 

To me, the Memorial Church embodies the best aspects of a community. It has achieved what every community should strive for.  It is the warmest and most inviting space on this campus.  It welcomes individuals from strikingly diverse backgrounds, which is exemplified by the vast range of speakers we have had for Morning Prayers this year.  And its commitment to empathy and compassion in response to life’s injustices has shaped me both intellectually and morally.  Our Harvard Memorial Church has taught me what it means to be a member of a loving community and how to be a loving member in return.                                                          

When I graduate later month, I will no longer be an active member of this church.  Upon graduation, I will be moving far away from our “space of grace” to San Francisco to start work.  As I begin again to seek out new communities, I will remember my mom’s advice and “keep an open-mind”.  Because I may find that I belong in the most unexpected places.  And more importantly, I intend to emulate the ideals of love and compassion that we have learned and practiced here at MemChurch. 

Thank you for letting me be a part of this beautiful community.