Soul Space was organized in the fall of 1999 to promote interfaith exchange and bridge building as a way of fostering understanding and peace-making among women of faith. Conceived by a Catholic laywoman, Marilyn Gehant, Soul Space originally opened as a small, urban retreat facility the week before September 11, 2001. Jewish, Muslim and Christian women carried the Torah, Quran, and New Testament into the space in the Chicago Sacred Heart School complex and offered blessings. Read more...
Who We Are
We are women, old and young, seekers all, keepers of our own individual and congregational faith practices and wanting to better understand and honor the faith of others. We come to share experience and wisdom, to acknowledge distinctions, and discover connections among our faiths. At present, we are women of the book—Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We welcome all women of faiths. In order to foster soul space among us, we agree to bracket religious politics and disputes for attention in separate venues.
Encourage close listening and greater understanding among women of faith through reflective conversation and shared wisdom.
New Blog Post: From Worry to Wisdom
April 2, 2017
In these times of Muslim bans and destruction of Jewish cemeteries, it occurs to me that our hearts and minds are troubled with more fear and anxiety. We may vacillate between self-protection and blaming whoever, or whatever we can. Even so, the cycle of fretting and helplessness continues. I, for one, can easily toggle between concern for the disrupted lives of my Muslim and Jewish sisters, Mexican neighbors, and family who rely on the Affordable Care Act. My worrying self takes over, disabling my ability to see clearly how to wisely use my time and energy.
I decided to search our sacred texts for direction and consolation. In Jeremiah 29:11,
“I know what plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare, not for harm, offering a future full of hope for you.”
These are the words of God to a prophet who lived in some of the most turbulent and dangerous times for the Jewish people. He is angry and frustrated much of the time, yet his account of Yahweh’s words indicate another way of seeing. There is more in store for us; and for Jeremiah, that provided the courage to continue his work.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew, 6:26, we read:
“Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather in to barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life span?”
These are the words of Jesus to his followers, urging them to rely on God, not to be overcome by the concerns of the day. When I ponder how many ways I have been blessed, I can start from a place more grounded in the care of God to determine where I will speak and work for justice. Will it be a letter to a congressman or a call to a friend who is suffering after surgery; will I offer donations to the hungry in the Sudan or the flood victims of San Jose, or both: and where will I continue to find interfaith conversation and connections in my neighborhood?
In the Quran, I find two passages that speak to the rewards of turning to Allah for sustenance and strength.
“Righteous are they who believe in Allah…and those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity, and throughout all periods of stress. Such are the people of truth, the God fearing.” 2:177 “Verily, in the remembrance of God, do hearts find rest.” 13:28
Consistent in these passages is the counsel to slow down, to lean on God, to wait upon God’s guidance. The Prophet Muhammed’s son-in-law, Ali Abn Abe Talib, defined patience as, “seeking God’s help.”
These sacred texts do not absolve us from speaking up for our sisters and brothers in need. They are a pathway to hope. With prayerful pauses, we tap the calm we need to act out of love, not hate; to listen and respond, rather than retort, and to rely on the caring of God, not merely on ourselves. In each of our traditions, the Holy One advises us to confidently let go of paralyzing worry and to turn to our faith for inspiration and the courage to act, and to practice patience by “seeking God’s help.”
I hope many of you will attend the Soul Space Retreat on April 30. This is the time for sisters in faith to come together to foster understanding and to support one another.
Soul Space Foundress
View past blogs