From the Director

Shem Center For Interfaith Spirituality

Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality
Joseph Kilikevice, Founding Director
Steven G. Miller, Assistant Director

Shem Center Christmas Message, 2022

Shem Center Christmas Message, 2022

Dear friends,

Warm wishes, holiday good cheer, contentment, and happiness is what I want to convey in my annual Christmas message. It’s traditional and expected. But I find I’m falling somewhat short of writing a positive, reassuring message this time. I certainly want our children to feel the delight of unwrapping gifts and the surprises they contain, the colorful lights and decorations on the Christmas tree and the creche under it depicting the reason for celebrating so liberally. Surely they deserve our efforts to give them memories to recall years later as lovely expressions of ours and God’s love.

Yet, for us adults denial of what is true in today’s world, no matter how commonly accepted “alternative truths” may be, blatant lies are still lies and along with the Christmas gifts we give our children teaching them how to spot the difference between truth and lies is one gift they will need for the rest of their lives.

“Let’s pretend” may be what we choose to give our children by way of protecting them from the sadness that comes with the truth of today’s world, but kindness and compassion are born out of acknowledging the truth we are asked to do something about. I am left wondering how much pretending the children of Ukraine have the luxury of enjoying. For us this is not a time for denial, but a time of telling a true story, one in which we are called to participate in.

The Christmas message I add to this letter is my way of saying that truth matters, as does memory and story and the Scriptural narrative we have been given to guide us. Our lives today are also Sacred Scripture for they contain an account of God present in our lives, suffering with us and guiding us as we work for justice and a world healed from violence, destruction and lies.

Wishing you a truth filled Christmas time,
Br. Joseph Kilikevice, OP
Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality

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The Sounds of Christmas, Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality, 2022

An audio monitor sends small reassuring baby sounds from the nursery where a three month old child sleeps.
— sounds of Christmas

Animal breaths keep them warm, infant sounds in this stable, no nursery monitor here, but prelude sounds to words that will be spoken one day to a crowd on a hillside. “Blessed are you peacemakers, and you who grieve, and forgive, and remember me.”
— sounds of Christmas

Bombs, missiles, destroyed buildings, women, children and their pets, elderly in basements and subways, cries of grief, and words of resolve, a flag of sky blue and harvest yellow folded with love hidden until an unknown day of liberation, tears and sobs, hands touch the train’s glass window, lips move to silent words of love and farewell.
— sounds of Christmas

Arlington National Cemetery, stepping from the bullet proof limousine he pauses, looks and utters a single word, “Losers!” Civility ditched beside the road, patriot’s dishonored, lies and insults replace facts and truth. Refugees escape from a violent homeland to yet more violence, hope filled words sung in foreign tongues, a wall and a forgotten message, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
— sounds of Christmas

Butterflies, bees and other life forms become extinct as planet earth rapidly warms.
— sounds of Christmas

Abraham’s family — Jews, Christians, Muslims and LGBTQ persons, people of color, children, migrants, random citizens, gunshots commingle with carols, and now over 600 mass shootings this year—Silent night, holy night, when blossoms flowered mid the snow upon a winter’s night.
— sounds of Christmas

Yet still we trumpet silent nights, peaceful days keeping hope alive.
— Br. Joseph Kilikevice

Shem Center 2022 Year-end Letter

Dear friends,

All are welcomed into Shem Center’s Circle of Respect — people of all faith traditions, spiritual paths, those who claim none and those who may be searching for one.

Shem Center has declared this message from our beginnings in 1993 and continues in today’s deeply divided world. We acknowledge the truth of a world that suffers from injustice, violence and uncertainty. Climate change is more appropriately named climate
crisis and is part of the lives of all people on our planet, some far more than others. This, “our common home” as Pope Francis calls it, is experiencing some alarming ecological changes with the displacement of people and other creatures of the natural world. Shem
Center views this crisis as a deeply spiritual one calling us to live responsibly on this planet of exquisite beauty and abundance.

Political unrest, an insurrection, conspiracy theories, lies, deceit and assault upon our democracy threatens a world beyond our borders. An unprovoked war in Ukraine with crimes against humanity committed with impunity, cause great suffering to a courageous
people. To this tragedy add the overarching devastation of creation that effects all people as the climate crisis deepens and a rich diversity of life forms is threatened with extinction.

Shem Center addresses these issues and meets the challenges the pandemic presents by finding new ways to bring our message to others, such as a newly designed, award winning web site, and the use of Zoom technology for retreats. We have also welcomed Steve Miller as an Assistant Director, a co-presenter on Male Spirit retreats for some years. View the Shem Center’s web site. https://shemcenter.org/

This is also our year-end appeal for funds needed to pay for unexpected plumbing and furnace replacement expenses. Your tax exempt contributions are earnestly sought. Once again our friends, The Wolcott Ebbeler Foundation will match every two dollars you donate. Find donor information at https://shemcenter.org/donate/

Our annual report will be published on the Shem Center web site early in 2023.

With respect and gratitude for your friendship and support,
— Joseph Kilikevice, OP, Director

Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality
708 North Harvey Avenue
Oak Park, IL 60302

(708) 848-1095
shemcenter1993@gmail.com

Photo Credits: Emory Mead, Stephen B. Starr, Joseph Kilikevice

The Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality website is awarded a 2022 American Digital Design Award for excellence in design and user experience.

2022 American Digital Design Awards