Support and encouragement for people living with chronic illness

By Kathy Keary

The Circle of Love was created to provide support, encouragement and hope in a safe environment for people living with chronic illnesses. When people realize that they are not alone in their struggle, they often experience a sense of relief and encouragement.

We begin each session with meditative prayer. Meditative prayer is an exercise in mindfulness, which has proven helpful for emotional and spiritual healing often needed when a physical or mental ailment is present.

In the Circle of Love, we focus our meditative prayer by reflecting on a art work, a passage of Scripture, a poem, or a song uncovering how the divine is speaking to us as an individual. Each person then forms a response to God in the silence of their heart. We then give voice to our experience by sharing with the group the highlights of our prayer, which aims at increasing our awareness of how the divine has touched us individually and as a group.

We then enter into contemplative sharing. Participants silently reflect on questions that are posed to the group that speak to a person’s lived experience. The silence allows an individual to enter a space deep within to see what is truly stirring there. We then take turns sharing from the heart as the others in the group reverently listen from that place deep within rather than listening to respond. The option to pass is always available.

Experience has shown that the participants in the Circle play a vital role in lifting up others in the group.

Contemplative sharing allows an individual to come to a greater understanding of their emotional and spiritual response to living with their particular illness. Giving voice to this can be a great source of healing especially when one is allowed to express themselves in a nonjudgmental atmosphere and when it is recognized that one’s input is of benefit to the entire group.

Often through contemplative sharing, members in the Circle learn strategies that have helped others in coping with a chronic illness. Witnessing people who have made progress toward living a full and meaningful life in spite of their illness can bring a powerful sense of hope.

Experience has shown that the participants in the Circle play a vital role in lifting up others in the group. Not only can the awareness that others are there to support you be of substantial benefit, providing support to others as a participant increases the realm within which an individual can serve others. Becoming a “wounded healer” adds to a person’ sense of purpose. We naturally feel better when we are able to help others.

We meet in the Lakeside Room of the Precious Blood Renewal Center at 1:30-3 p.m. on Fridays, near the end of each month. Our scheduled dates are February 28, March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26.

Many in our world live with a chronic illness. We ask that you bring Circle of Love to the attention of your family members and friends who would benefit from this type of gathering. You can register for Circle of Love here or download this flyer to share with others.

Individuals can join us at any time. All are welcome.

[Kathy Keary, a Precious Blood Companion and spiritual director, holds a master’s degree in theological studies and is a graduate of the Atchison Benedictine’s Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the divine within. She enjoys accompany others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]

Photo above © Artur Balytskyi | Dreamstime.com

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