Enveloped in a broader circle of care
By Pastor Kara
In Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, everyone from ages 5 to 18 rode the bus together. My memory of this is so clear because we had just moved to town in July 1977, and the first time my brothers and I got on the bus together — the boys in 10th and eighth grades and I in second — we sat in the first row and they put me right in between them.
My big brothers were protecting me. They were surrounding me in a circle of care.
Trust me, this didn’t happen all the time. They were typical big brothers who also picked on me, and I was the typical little sister who bugged them a lot. Yet, all these years later, that first bus ride to school in Chippewa Falls is still one of my most important memories of my big brothers.
Over the years, more and more circles of care have come into my life. Friends from all of the different communities where I have had the opportunity to live have become near and dear to me. We have protected one another, cried together, laughed together, cooked meals for one another in times of need, and held one another in prayer.
Over the year my circles of care have been pretty homogeneous — that is to say, they have been pretty Lutheran (and exclusively Christian). I’m incredibly thankful for these circles of care, but being at Carthage has expanded my circles of care incredibly.
In April, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the last Interfaith Lunch of the year, the Knitting, Etc. club presented me a prayer shawl. Chelsea Reuter ’16 invited everyone there — students, faculty, and staff — to surround me in a circle of care while she prayed for me.
The circle included people from many Christian denominations (Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and nondenominational) and many other faiths (Islam, Judaism, Unitarian, pagan), as well as atheists and seekers. There was no agreement on ultimate truth in that circle, but the shared value of care for those who are sick created a circle of care around me that shared the hope of healing.
The circle of care, hope and prayer that surrounded me that day has helped me through three surgeries and whatever else may be coming my way in the next several months. It is now connected with all the other circles of care that have been formed throughout my life.
It was a powerful moment, to stand in the center of the circle of care. The students were leading, showing us a world where coming together to care for those in need can be done even when we are “different” from one another. There was no fear in the moment; just love and respect and hope for healing — not just for me, but for all the world.
Carthage has expanded my circle of care. I’m forever grateful.
The Carthaginian is a magazine for Carthage alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College. It is published three times a year by the Carthage Office of Communications. Read the Carthaginian online at www.carthage.edu/carthaginian.