Home Away from Home

Eleni Lazarides leads you through each room at the Study Center, the place that has been her home in Charlottesville. 

Eleni Lazarides
Photo by Nate Diemer

As I sit at my kitchen table in Boston, reflecting on the impact the Center for Christian Study has had on my life over the past four years, I can’t help but think about where I would be right now if I were writing this reflection where I had hoped to be writing it: at 128 Chancellor Street.

I remember the first time I heard about the Study Center: “the brown house just up the street” from St. Paul’s Church, where my first year Bible study met. My friend (and fellow fourth year) Callie Gaskins told me that “it was the best place ever.” I was sold. I visited the Stud for the first time the next day. 

Although I lived in the White House at the end of the street and in the Yellow House next door to the Study Center, the brown building that stands at 128 was my home on Chancellor Street. It’s my home in Charlottesville. 

By the spring of my first year, I spent more time at the Stud than anywhere on Grounds. One of my favorite memories from that semester was cooking dinner in the kitchen with Callie and a few other friends. In addition to appreciating the physical nourishment—the dining halls just weren’t cutting it come mid-April—I discovered my love for that small, often crowded kitchen. The Study Center kitchen is the center of midday procrastination; small group baking; coffee, tea, and cocoa drinking; and loud, memorable post-lecture discussions. I have spent many Thursday afternoons, Sunday evenings, and early mornings there—preparing ERSP dinner, Sabbath baking (all rights reserved to Katie Hightower), and chatting with lots of strangers, who quickly became friends. It’s my favorite room of the house. 

My love for the Study Center, however, extends beyond the kitchen and into each of its meeting rooms, offices, hallways, staircases, and porches. I studied best in the front rooms—the Richman Room when I needed to focus, the front room when schoolwork wasn’t necessarily my top priority, always in a seat facing the door. 

Next up, the back room. I spent every Thursday evening of this school year in that room with the residents learning from Ethan and Katie. We learned how to use the acronym CASKET to trace the redemptive story of gospel through the Old Testament. We learned about who Jesus is through the book of Mark, and, come spring, how the Old Testament promises we learned about in the fall were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Last year, the “Zingers” and I attended Bill Wilder’s class on vocation with the Trinity Fellows. We learned about a framework for understanding the story of the Bible: creation, fall, redemption, consummation. I have also attended lectures, Lunch Clubs, talks, worship nights, small groups, and spent lots of time studying in the Back Room. It was here that God revealed in me a deep love for and interest in learning about His Word.  

Now heading upstairs. Every other week for the past two years, I’ve spent a little over an hour in Katie’s office for ERSP mentorship. I took my pathophysiology final in that office, when it was Lane’s. I have laughed and cried, named deep anger and hurt, and experienced abundant love and care on the white futon that sits under Katie’s Christmas window decal. 

I spent every Saturday morning of my second year spring and third year fall semesters in the library. It’s where I go to read—when I can snag an armchair—and where I go when I’m in need of a new book. It’s where I go to distract friends from their schoolwork and Callie from her intern work, prepare for Bible study, print papers, and watch the sunrise from inside. 

I preferred the nook on rainy days. The prayer room for small groups. Carly and Rachel/Katie Carr’s office when I needed a smile. The porch when it was sunny. The deck when it was lunchtime, and the basement when ERSP was playing a fun group game called Assassins. 

As much as I love the Study Center building, I love what it points me towards more—its people. The buzz of the kitchen, the appeal of the front room, the lessons of the back room, the warmth of Katie’s office, the beauty of the library, the coziness of the nook, the quiet of the prayer room, and the delight of Carly and Rachel/Katie Carr’s headquarters are all signs of life. It is evidence of the Lord at work through the *insert adjective that doesn’t exist because no word can do it justice* community that makes up the Study Center.