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The Kindness of Strangers

Receiving spiritual care from someone of a different faith—and giving it

Illustration Credit: Star Tree by Jennifer Currie

We live in a multireligious, multicultural society. This is a treasure, but it often comes with challenges. When hardship and crisis strike we are rightly grateful for the kind souls who rush in to care for us—especially those who offer spiritual and emotional care, such as hospital and hospice chaplains, spiritual counselors, funeral directors, or even the caring person in the checkout line who reaches out when we are in a vulnerable moment. Increasingly in our culture, however, those kind people practice faith traditions that are very different from our own. How can we receive the grace they offer in the spirit that they intend? And when we are the ones helping, how can we be of greatest service to folks whose faith is different from ours? If you are the one being cared for, it is important to remember that you and your caregiver are both human, and have the same human needs, feelings, aspirations, and struggles. No matter how different your spiritual paths might be, simple kindness and compassion are a universal meeting point.  If your caregiver is a professional, you can trust that he o …

Rev. Mabry is director of the Interfaith Spiritual Direction program at the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, California.

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