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Spotlight: Mills Chaplain Maud Steyaert

Mills College Weekly

How you can meet Maud, our college chaplain: Say hi when
you run into her around campus, stop by her office in the chapel to
chat, or attend Nourishing Spirit, a meditation and reflection time
open to the entire Mills community, on Thursdays from 6:30-6:50
p.m. in the chapel. “We play meditative music from various world
traditions, I do two readings from sacred and/or secular sources,
we light candles, and do a brief silent meditation. People enjoy it
whatever their spiritual perspective, in part because of the
diversity of sources I draw on. It’s a low-stress way to re-center
yourself, and to add ritual to your week. Come check it out!”

In her office: A world map on the wall, next to plaques
of Christian saints, a Jewish menorah, a quilt of Francois Millet’s
“The Sower,” a colorful Tibetan tapestry, and on the window a
poster that says “One people, one planet.”

Graduated from Mills: In 1988, with an International
Relations major and Philosophy minor. She was the ASMC president.
After Mills, was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs and worked in the
field of disability rights. “I never thought I would be chaplain at
Mills but I’m glad I am. I love Mills.”

The best part of her job: “Being in conversation with
people about what matters in their lives.”

Her own religious affiliation: Maud had always been
interested in religion but was raised “unchurched.” “When I was
little, I remember thinking when I grow up I want to be a monk.
They got to hang out all day in beautiful places, read, live and
work communally, and essentially talk to God.” For the last 20
years she has been an active Unitarian Universalist, an offshoot of
the early American Transcendalism of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller.
“It is, historically, a liberal Christian tradition. It doesn’t
limit itself to one source of meaning only.”

Her inspiration: Reading through the sacred writings of
various world traditions.

Maud’s “word for the chapel-shy”: “The chapel is not only
a place to be religious, but a place to be human. We are all
meaning-makers. However you know and name the sacred in your life,
or don’t, you are welcome here.” The chapel is open seven days a
week, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Maud’s “Top ten reasons to get yourself down to the chapel
(whether there’s something happening there or not)”:

10. The walk down Richards Road is a good cardiovascular
workout, and the trees are so gorgeous you forget that it’s a

9. It’s a test-free, stress-free zone.

8. Sitting inside a circle of redwood, glass, and stone is a
good way to get away from it all and lay your burdens down.

7. Re/discover perspectives from the world’s wisdom literature,
including the Tanakh, the Christian Scriptures, the Qur’an, and the
words of sages across cultures and ages.

6. Re/connect with your own self, your own wisdom, your own

5. Cultivate some hope, joy and vision.

4. Co-create meaning for yourself and your world with other
Mills folk on the path.

3. It’s a good place for silence, reflection, solace and
celebration, for community and solitude.

2. It’s a good place to pray for peace, however you pray.

1. It’s * y o u r * space.