With Homecoming on the horizon at Oklahoma Christian University, multiple festivities are scattered throughout the week leading up to the basketball season kickoff and crowning of Homecoming royalty.
Tonight, the 14th annual Lighting of the Commons will be held from 6-8 p.m. The event is hosted by Soundings, a longstanding, student-run, nonprofit literary arts journal for the students, staff, faculty and alumni of Oklahoma Christian.
Sophomore Ali Richardson, Soundings’ social media administrator, says the event is always a good time.
“Lighting of the Commons is fun because it’s like a fake Christmas with the Christmas lights up, which is fun because we’re never on campus for Christmas,” Richardson said. “Then you get to wander around and find something you want to do — there’s really cool crafts to look at, they usually have hot cocoa inside, which is nice, and it comes in a cute mug. Then there’s the big lights show with fireworks, and the clock tower lights up too.”
Alongside the fireworks, market and cocoa, there are usually opportunities for Santa photos and carriage rides. It brings a lot of people together, according to Soundings administrative director Caleb Phelps.
“It’s a good chance for you to learn more about the campus and meet people,” Phelps said.
However, amid the Christmas Market’s festive lights and laughter, there lies a deeper meaning.
Lighting of the Commons serves as Soundings’ largest fundraiser and it helps further a mission that began with their name “soundings.”
According to Soundings’ website, Sam “Mark Twain” Clemens’ pseudonym was allegedly inspired by the use of “soundings” from Mississippi River mariners to determine the water’s depth. So, when English Professor Joe McCormack told this story to some students in the early ‘70s, the name stuck as a link to both a classic American author and a search for depth.
Pursuit of depth, however, necessitates the ability to actively listen, a sentiment expressed in the last Soundings blog post by Ann Magner, a 2022 graduate and former senior editor for Soundings.
“I’d like to think, by meditating on the arts, whatever their form, we learn to listen a little better, to hear meaning in any moment with the potential for expression and connection,” Magner wrote.
In sum, Soundings’ vision is to be “‘an exhibition of artistic minds’ which brings together the exceptional talents of the Oklahoma Christian community, giving undiscovered writers and artists the opportunity to showcase their work.”
To that end, they publish a journal every year in the spring which any student, staff, faculty and alumni can submit to. However, there are some caveats.
Publishing journals to give away for free requires funds, and while a journal collects the pieces all in one place, it does not necessarily bring together the people behind it. Additionally, not all art can be adequately expressed in a journal.
Phelps shared a similar sentiment.
“I feel the art department is disconnected from everybody else most of the time,” Phelps said. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities for the art students to express themselves and show off what they’re doing.”
Hence, the Christmas Market, where anyone can apply to sell their wares, whether that be crochet, rings, food, clothes, paintings or almost anything else they wish to offer.
Amid one of the busiest weeks in the semester, the Christmas Market and Lighting of the Commons is a fun event one can attend while supporting local art, small businesses and a journal adamant on “bringing together the exceptional talents of the Oklahoma Christian community.”
To take part in the festivities, head to the pavilion between 6 and 8 p.m. tonight.
To see more about what vendors will be at the market, visit Soundings’ Instagram here.