Caring Presence In Times Of Illness And Pain
Religious imagination is particularly vivid and powerful when fragility and mortality are in the air. Each religious tradition—in its own language of prayer, ritual, story, and custom—responds to illness and the accompanying dis-ease that encompass an individual, family, and community in ever-widening circles.
During our days in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, we will explore Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traditions regarding the sacred work of attending, caring, and supporting one another in times of illness and pain. Muslim, Christian, and Jewish community leaders will be our primary guides, with help and support from other fellow-travelers whose different faith traditions add to the rich presence of moral life in America. Join the conversation among many traditions that share common human values.
On the Day of Resurrection, God the Mighty and Majestic will say: ‘O child of Adam! I became sick and you did not visit me!’ The person will say, ‘O Lord, how can I visit you and you are the Lord of all that Exists!’ God will say, ‘Did you not know that my slave ‘so and so’ became sick, and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you visited him, you would have found me with him?’ (Saheeh Muslim)
The king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…I was sick, and you took care of me…’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘And when was it that we saw you sick…? And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)
From what source do we know that the Almighty sustains the sick? From the verse: The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed (Psalm 41:4). It was taught also in reference to this verse: One who visits the sick must not sit upon the bed or on a stool or a chair but must robe himself respectfully and sit upon the ground because the Divine Presence rests above the sick person’s bed, as it is written: The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed (Psalm 41:4) (Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 40a)
Under the guidance of respected leaders, the Institute participants strive to share and to value the wisdom of fellow-travelers in a world increasingly in need of the widest circle of community that we can create. This year we will be guided once again by some of last year’s leaders–back by popular demand–as well as some new voices. They are well-respected leaders who model pastoral presence and promote a culture of caring and presence to all in need.
Rabbi Steven Sager is the Rabbi Emeritus of Beth El Synagogue in Durham, NC, where he served as rabbi for 32 years after graduating from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He earned a Ph.D. in Rabbinic Literature at Duke University. He is a long-time adjunct faculty member of the Duke Divinity School. His primary work involves rabbinic and clergy enrichment, especially on the theme of living with loss, the most insistent and persistent theme of clergy life. He has served as the co-director of the Wildacres Interfaith Institute and now, as the Director of Sicha, he is responsible for the contents of the annual Wildacres Interfaith program.
Reverend Katie Crowe has been an AIDS hospice worker, a trauma center chaplain, a chapter founder of Contemplative Outreach, dedicated to furthering the practice of Centering Prayer, and as Pastor of churches in Charlotte and in Durham where she serves as the Senior Pastor of the Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church. She was inspirational in her personal story telling at last year’s Institute and we anticipate her continued spiritual presence this summer.
Imam Mowlid Ali was born in Somalia, He is the Imam of Jamaat-Ibad-Ar-Rahhman, Durham, NC, and founder of Al-Misbah Qur’an Academy. Mowlid has earned the title, “Hafiz,” one who has memorized the Qur’an. Mowlid is a tranquil and graceful teacher. He is honored both in and beyond his own religious community for his caring and steadfast presence when individuals or communities are in need.
Bishop Ronald L. Godbee serves as the lead pastor of The River Church in Durham, NC and as the Presiding Bishop of The River Fellowship Int. He continues daily to commit his life to interfaith initiatives that seek to build bridges. In his book, Why Leaders Fail, he teaches that leaders are “successful only when they discover how to ask the right questions.” His commitment to interfaith work and his pastoral ability to help his fellow-travelers ask the right questions, especially in moments of illness, pain, and disappointment make him a wonderful addition to our Institute.
Kathleen Maloney-Tarr, a writer and spiritual director, returns to conduct her popular writing workshop for those who wish to explore our theme of “Journeying Through” by personal writing. There will be an opportunity for some of our writers to share their work with the Interfaith community. This has been an annual highlight of our Interfaith Institute and we are delighted to have her join us again this summer!
Come and enjoy the learning and the fellowship. Share our time of deep reflection and high spirits. Help to create a reflective, caring community that can sustain itself beyond our days in the mountains, strengthening for our return from the mountain. Registration fees for 2019 cover the cost of the program as well as room and board at Wildacres for 3 nights, including 8 kosher meals. The fees are based on double occupancy ($50 single supplement). A limited amount of scholarship assistance is available. Children’s learning programs will be offered by Kitty Wolf, an experienced educator. This program, entitled “God’s Paintbrush,” utilizes arts and crafts materials and a specially designed curriculum for children of all faiths.
$325 per person for clergy and spouse;
$350 per person for laity;
$130 per child age 6-12;
$90 per child 3-5.