Reading and reflecting together on When Breath Becomes Air
Starting tonight and continuing over the next six Tuesdays, we will be joining together for an hour of discussion and contemplation around the celebrated book When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Every week, we will aim to read about 30 pages of the book and come together for an hour to reflect on themes of meaning, life, and mortality that are so beautifully brought together in this work.
The meetings will take place virtually over Zoom from 7:30 – 8:30 PM EST.
Whether you are able to read the assigned pages or not, we invite you to join us for a relaxed time of conversation and learning from different faith perspectives. Every week will include a summary of previous discussions for those who are unable to join regularly.
The reading schedule is as follows:
- 9th November: Prologue – p30
- 16th November: pp. 31-54
- 23rd November: pp. 55-88
- 30th November: pp. 89-120
- 7th December: pp. 121-150
- 14th December: pp. 151-183
- 21st December: pp. 184-228
We look forward to sharing this time with you!
Envisioning community care for those on a journey with cancer
Welcome, one and all, to the NJIC3 blog. We hope that this will be an online space for a wide array of voices to reflect on their experiences with cancer, whether as someone who has received a diagnosis or who has walked alongside a person who has (perhaps both). In whichever position you the reader find yourself in, may these reflections offer you a sense of hope or comfort or of being understood.
Since this is our first post, it seems fitting to talk a little about the spirit behind NJIC3 and the ways in which we hope for this community to grow. As a group, we represent a range of different faiths and theological commitments, and there are many differences we could think of (isn’t that what we’ve been so well-trained to do, recently?). Yet one common thread that appears time and again for people of faith is the question of suffering and how we ought to respond to it. Despite different explanations that are offered for the meaning (or lack thereof) of suffering, we have found widespread agreement that our faiths compel us to care deeply for the needs of those who are hurting. The very fact that we find ourselves engaged in faith communities points to the belief that we are better equipped for difficult times in life and more likely to flourish as human beings when we are in supportive communities. We do not believe that anyone should have to suffer alone.
“Cancer” is a word that probably evokes a wide range of thoughts and emotions for the average person. The ways that cancer affects individuals, families, and communities cannot be neatly defined, nor should we try. But what can be said is that we are witnessing a moment in history where physical, emotional, and spiritual health are increasingly viewed as commodities to be secured by the individual from a marketplace of services. For those with the resources to do so, it can be a stressful world to navigate, made more complex by corporate profit-making tactics. For those without the necessary resources, it is a world of medical and mental health expertise that is always beyond their reach.
NJIC3 is committed to a vision where no one should have to navigate the complexities of cancer on their own, and where a person’s access to the care they require is determined not by their private resources, but by the wealth of resources we find within our communities. We see a vast range of possibilities for connecting the generosity and diverse gifts within faith communities to the unique needs that arise for people who are affected by cancer.
In future reflections, we will be exploring in greater depth the three areas of focus that we are basing our work on at NJIC3: contemplation, care, and collaboration. For now, though, we hope that anyone who is reading this and feeling compelled by the vision of community cancer care will get in touch. Whether you are someone who would benefit from increased support, or you would like to give of your own resources for those who would, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us via email at NJIC3@improvingnj.org or give us a call at +1 (786) 322-3458. Please also contact us if you would like to share your own reflection on the cancer experience through this platform.
Until next time, with peace and thanks.