A Message from Dean Steinwert

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*Tiffany Steinwert serves as the Dean of Hendricks Chapel

This trip has been an opportunity to engage religious pluralism in the world while building strategic relationships at home. Bringing ten diverse chaplains and staff half way around the globe to strengthen our work back at Syracuse University may, on the surface, seem like a contradiction. Why would we have to leave campus to better campus life? But the reality is that what we did over these ten days in Turkey could never have been done at SU or even in the United States.

International travel creates liminal space in which social norms, customs, and barriers are broken down and new relationships, traditions, and ways of being are constructed. Liminality crafts communitas, a sacred community bound by shared experience in which differences fall away and people unite in a deep sense of their shared humanity. InThe Ritual Process, Victor Turner notes that communitas can only be created when people distance themselves both from mundane structures of quotidian life and their own particular social identities. This is exactly what we sought to do in our journey to Turkey.

The constant dislocation of travel wears down the walls that divide us in our daily lives and allows us to see the world and each other in a new light. The hidden feelings we may have had, but never acknowledged, rise to the surface and we begin to question and search ourselves in profound ways. Confronting difference, particularly religious difference, encourages us to delve deep within to face our own assumptions, values, and beliefs. This type of communal, inter-religious travel experience asks us to acknowledge prejudices we never knew we had and to dismantle them in light of new discoveries.

This journey of the heart has not only given us an opportunity to reflect about who we are and want to be, but also has empowered us to deconstruct the walls that divide, crafting a new found community spirit we now carry back home. Exploring Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Pagan sites in the context of modern Turkey has opened all of us to the power of engaged dialogue and action among people of many faith and non-faith traditions. We leave not simply having journeyed to the depths of our own hearts, but having opened our hearts to others, forging connections as strong as the silken thread we watched being spun before our eyes in Cappadocia.

These ten days have changed us for the better and will transform our campus as we allow the lessons learned to inform and shape our engagement in the Division of Student Affairs. The challenge that lies before us is not to recreate this experience back home, but rather to allow the spirit of our journey to pervade all we do in our collective work with diverse students, staff, and faculty to create a better, more just campus and world. 

Syracuse or bust! Off we go. JFK then Hancock.

Thank you Turkey
Thank you Tim
Thank you Turkish Cultural Center
Thank you Tiffany
Thank you Hendricks Chapel
Thank you Syracuse University

We are forever changed and deeply grateful.

Day 10: Completion

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Welcome to Day 10 of our 10-Day Journey of the Heart. We did it!

Today’s guiding intention is “Completion,” as we have now completed our journey together.

To complete something is interesting. It confirms an ending … a wholeness … a fullness of experience, and yet at the same time, it suggests the start of a something new … a new beginning. Thus, the cycle of life.

Even though we are headed back to the States today and our trip will be officially complete, our journey has only just begun. 

Until we immerse ourselves back into our daily lives, we have yet to fully understand all the ways in which we’ve been changed, impacted, and inspired by this journey. It is in the experience of “what is not” that we move more deeply into knowing of “what is.” It is through such “contrast” that we begin to awaken to our truest selves. 

This is the beauty of life. 

This is what we’re here to discover … to discover more and more and more of who we are and how we’re all connected.

We hope you have enjoyed this journey together. We know we did. 

As you come to the completion of your 10-Day Journey of the Heart, remember, it’s only just the beginning. 

Thanks for following. 

Thanks for joining. 

Much love and light. 

Be well, friends. 

Day 10 Daily Poem

Epistle to the Future
        Mt. Koressos - Ephesus, Turkey

        My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit
        hath rejoiced in God, my Savior.

                               - Luke 1: 46-55 KJV


Dear ones, whose faces are mere dreams, accept my love,
this simple gift wrapped in blue, offered to soothe your sadness
and concerns. I never intended to be known but I follow Spirit
in full faith, facing my meek apprehension as I greet sleep itself.

As was custom, I was but a shy girl when promised in betrothal.
Before the home-taking, a remarkable light broke the mask of night
full with flutter and wings, guiding me. I would soon open
my woman wound to deliver the gift of God. I did not realize
He would not be just mine to coddle. I would relinquish Him to all.

No mother should endure the loss of a child. As parents, we gave Him
a safe home and sound counsel, a sturdy trade. Yet He walked beyond
our door into the crowds and realms of miracle. I lost him
to the wilderness, the outstretched hands, to an inevitable execution.

Magdalene and Mary of Clopas stood vigil with me, counting His waning
breaths. We prayed for all three stretched against coarse wood, torn
by gravity. We bore witness to the outcome of politics and petty fears,
united as sisters thereafter, a convenant, our voices of testament.

John was good to find this quiet home, far from pain, solid
against weather, even the earth shaking beneath our feet.
He gave me a tranquil life, suitable to my nature, nearly anonymous.
I am more familiar with the birds than neighbors, at peace
with the woman I have grown to be.

It is my intention to heal, beyond what my human body can withstand.
You will journey here and likely arrive tired. Let the fig leaves shelter
your eyes from the harsh sun. Wash your hands and feet. Place your
soles on the ground I have trod. Permit the quartz glow to rise
until you are free. Tack your wishes and prayers to the wall.
The angels will kiss you pure.

                It is our joy to ever be in your service,
                Mother Mary


Day 10 Note: I have been honored to follow the contemplative practice presented by the travels of the Hendricks Chapel 10-Day Journey of the Heart, allowing time to let the centering word each day guide my actions and conscious navigation of my daily world. I thank the travelers for sharing their experiences and revelations; by their examples, I have gained in my own practice and sense of unity among humans. I leave my last poem, which has been steeping since the tour’s departure, and is now complete, while our friends are home safely and ready to continue in the next steps of the journey. Blessed be and thank you so much! Namaste.

Reflections from Peppie

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*Peppie serves as the Director of Hendricks Chapel Choir

"I know I do not know."

This text is from one of the most compelling English language poems I’ve recently encountered. Written by Susan Cherwein and set to music as part of a larger set called “From Light to Light” by J. Aaron McDermid, this text comes to mind as I assess my own faith as it comes to my work as director of the Hendricks Chapel Choir at Syracuse University.

This text has come to mind often during my travels in Turkey with my colleagues from SU. Being in a nation that claims to be secular, yet is mostly dominated by Muslims, I am forced to constantly mind the thought, and the relative discomfort, of being markedly in the minority (again). 

Being on this trip has brought to light a number of relatively universal truths - a set of ethical and moral values that seem to exist through the vast majority of humanity regardless of our faith: compassion, family, empathy, concern, generosity, hospitality, and kindness, among others. The truth revealed in the experience in Turkey is that, in the vast majority of cases, we agree on our fundamental values as human beings. We have a choice either to amplify our similarities or amplify our differences. The choice to do the former ellicits social harmony, breaks down barriers of prejudice, and promotes mutual understanding and reconciliation.

For myself, my education and experience give me a number of reasons to side with science over religion (presuming that the two must be mutually exclusive). “I know I do not know.” Therefore, I choose to believe. Moreover, I choose to develop those beliefs through my own practice, and inform my beliefs through healthy dialogue with those with whom, on the surface, I may not necessarily agree. Most of all, I hope to be an example of these universal values for the students I have the honor to serve at SU. 

**A message from Dean Steinwert on the importance of taking this trip and exploring religious pluralism abroad.

Reflections from Jay

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*Jay serves as the Evangelical Chaplain

One thing that deeply moved me on this trip was our group being invited to eat dinner with a wonderful Turkish family. There were parents, grandparents and a cute and joyful 3-year-old daughter.  

The girl immediately broke the ice as we sat down in their lovely guest room. She was simply beautiful and engaged us by her constant smiles and contagious laughter. She brought out some of her most prized toys and demonstrated them for us.

After dinner we shared from the heart through Tim. Tim is the only one among us who can speak both Turkish and English, so he translated between us and the family. I realized as we spent the evening that the common things we shared were greater than any differences.

We bonded and by the time we left, our group as well as the family, had opened our hearts for each other in deep and moving ways. There were tears and changes of the heart. They hugged us with so much warmth and invited us to come back, telling us that we have a home in their home. This experience deepened my resolve to reach out across cultural and even religious barriers to build bridges of friendship.

Coming back to campus, this experience will help me tremendously to make the efforts to befriend people no matter their culture, background, or country of origin. As a chaplain, when I reach out to students, it will help me to build these bridges and not reinforce walls of mistrust. The joy of that little, beautiful girl who befriended us through her charming smiles and laughter, though we were strangers, will help me to remember this resolve. The children of the world deserve bridges to be built and not more walls.  

**A message from Dean Steinwert on the importance of taking this trip and exploring religious pluralism abroad.

Reflections from Bonnie

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*Bonnie serves as the Buddhist Chaplain

"Many of the experiences we’ve shared on this trip have settled into my heart and memory – to be like fertilizer that enriches everything I touch and do, especially in regard to our work in bringing contemplative practices and studies to the Syracuse University community. 

Peaceful coexistence, which can be achieved through cultivation of love, tolerance, and mutual understanding—this is a constant theme we’ve encountered here. We have heard this from our guides, even when we’ve asked difficult questions having to do with conflict and war; this part of the world has rarely been free from war or the threat of conflict, but have learned much about how to coexist. We have heard it from the family we visited, who expressed deep sorrow that the ground for mutual understanding had not been nurtured and strengthened long ago, long before 9/11… a feeling we echoed back to them. We have heard it at the universities and organizations we have visited. Because we have been immersed for these few days in this culture and place, I have come to see that many people here measure their own behavior by these values. The challenge for me will be to sustain an intention in myself to enter into the kinds of relationships with others that allow for cultivation of these values between us.  

When we return, I know I’ll be swept up again into dealing with the world I left behind. This trip has given me many ideas for new ways of taking care of things, and I hope to follow through on most of them. Examples include: new programs for students, in cooperation with others in the Division of Student Affairs; a new look at the Buddhist chaplaincy, inviting other Buddhists to help with thinking that through; and working more closely with the other chaplains as we develop our ways of offering ourselves to the SU community. It has been a wonderful, rich, and deeply moving journey. 

I wish to express my deep thanks to the Turkish Cultural Center and Hendricks Chapel for making this opportunity available to us.”

**A message from Dean Steinwert on the importance of taking this trip and exploring religious pluralism abroad.

Reflections from Tanweer

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*Tanweer is featured on the left and serves as the Muslim Chaplain at Hendricks Chapel

"Turkey has been inhabited since prehistoric times and for the last 9,000 peoples, such as the Hattis, Hittites and Hourrites marched in and out through pages of history. Turkey provided all caves to live in, mountains to carve out homes from, pastures to raise cattle, even rock to carve out underground cities for women and children to hide while men battled on land to decide who rules the land. 
 
In today’s Turkey, men and women from various parts of Turkey, as well as the world, are welcomed in their western clothing and manners, along with women in veils, headscarves, with no one feeling out of place and everyone feeling at home. Turkey is all about inclusiveness. 
 
Hendricks Chapel is all about inclusiveness. The Muslim Chaplaincy at Hendricks is also about inclusiveness. Our Friday prayer at 1:10 pm in the main chapel is open to anyone to observe. We would like to organize programming where we can share our common values. We want to work together with sister chaplaincies on projects for making our University, neighborhood, and our world, a better place to live.”

**A message from Dean Steinwert on the importance of taking this trip and exploring religious pluralism abroad.