We hope you are doing well amid this ongoing crisis. This week we offer you messages of hope, workshops, and an update from the Wind River Mutual Aid efforts.
"Religious Literacy and Community Engagement: A Virtual Workshop" on April 15 at 1PM with religious literacy specialist Benjamin Marcus from the Religious Freedom Center.This interactive session will provide frameworks for understanding our complex religious identities, religious literacy, and how these play a role in reducing prejudice and violence.
To all of you who have opened your prayers, checkbooks, and pantries to our collective efforts on providing help to our neighbors on the WRR- THANK YOU.
We are so blessed to have generous volunteers (seen above at Our Father's House/St. Michael's Mission in Ethete) and donors from around the state of Wyoming.
We're happy to report that we were able to donate over $3,500 worth of food, water, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies this past Saturday. Surely, our work is not finished, and this is only a small step toward our goal of providing resources for everyone that needs it. While at this time we are not collecting food or canned goods, we are still collecting donations that go directly to covering people's basic needs. Stay tuned to our facebook page and website for more updates. Also, check out Wind River Community News for more updates, information and ways to get involved.
The Coronavirus has changed our lives, in ways great and small. Wyoming used to be known as the “home town” with very long streets. But, the virus changed all that. We are now suspicious about going next door, let alone down the street. I won’t belabor the anxieties we now feel, but I will share a famous quote:
“Fear is contagious, so also is hope.”
What is important at this time of pandemic paranoia is not just to practice social distance, but to also to practice spiritual community. The most famous advocate of this was Viktor Frankl. He spent years in Nazi concentration camps and never knew if his wife was still alive. But, he would “commune” with her in his own way. He called it “kything”—being spiritually together with someone far away. Dr. Frankl survived the lonely camps and, afterwards, wrote a significant answer to his persistent question: “Why don’t people who are suffering commit suicide?” His book, Man’s Search for Meaning, explores our deep longing for purpose even when we feel our efforts are in vain.
In these weeks of “social distancing,” it is vital to find ways that our spirits can be together. When people attend worship, it is a time of sharing—with rituals, concerns, joys, study, and prayer. And, some religions emphasize the importance of a solitary time, time spent ALONE WITH GOD. As Rabbi Nachman wrote: “May it be my custom to go outdoors each day, among all trees and grasses, among all growing things. And, there may I be alone to talk with the One I belong to.”
Each religion finds its way to encourage an encounter with God.
For Christians, there is careful study of the scripture and time, alone, in prayer. For Jews, there is the strong practice of “Mitzvah” or doing good deeds for others, privately, because these goodnesses are just between “you and God.” And, for all Muslims, there is the obligation to pray five times a day, no matter where you are.
To be alone WITH GOD is vital to honest spirituality. Yet those times of solitary faith are intended to bring us closer to others. So, even if we’re far away, we are close at heart. The corona virus can isolate us or it can lead us to a deeper awareness of our spiritual connections. These examples are at our finger-tips. We just have to remember we can:
1. Pray for others, just because their need rests on our hearts.
2. Go through a ritual at home that speaks of a faith beyond us.
3. Listen to music or sing it because it calls us to a spiritual place.
4. Focus on sacred symbols—perhaps a candle, an icon, a cross.
5. Study the sacred texts with our hearts and our minds.
6. Take a walk and notice the world God has made.
There are many ways we can feel at one spiritually because the path has been prepared for us. The connection of others who practice just being with God brings us closer to each other. And, that practice begins in our own hearts and minds.
Social distancing doesn’t have to be a curse. It can be a new calling to spiritual nearness, to be “alone” with others who cast their human uncertainties onto the certainty of God.
SABBATH by Marcia Falk
Three generations back
My family had only
To light a candle
And the world parted.
Today, Friday afternoon,
I disconnect clocks and phones.
When night fills my house
I begin saving
Help us find our way to You.
For, You are our beginning and You will be our end.
Teach us to savor simple moments:
the feel of sunlight, the flow of water, the song of birds.
When material possessions control our lives,
and fill us with a sadness we cannot name,
Help us remember: the best things in life are not things.
In our being and in our doing,
breathe through our souls…again.
The Rev. Dr. Sally Palmer lives in Laramie and leads the On Sacred Ground team for WIN.
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15th- Online - Religious Literacy and Community Engagement: A Virtual Workshop for WIN
Benjamin Marcus, a religious literacy specialist at the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum, will facilitate an hour-long virtual workshop for the Wyoming Interfaith Network.
After discussing research about America's increasingly diverse religious landscape, we will analyze frameworks for making sense of changing and complex religious identities. The two primary frameworks covered by the workshop, which come from the field of religious literacy, are designed in part to combat the biases and prejudices that fuel violence. We will use these frameworks to diagram and explain our own religious and non-religious identities. Then we will discuss strategies for dialogue and action that better account for our lived religious experience
“Stay Home, Stay Focused” is a web series hosted by the Interfaith Alliance that focuses on the issues of justice, resilience, and religious freedom. See the schedule of guests below and join us every weekday at 10:15 AM MST on the Interfaith Alliance Facebook page.