What Does Spiritual Wellness Mean to You?
If you ask 100 people this question, you’ll probably get 100 very different responses.
When it comes to spiritual matters, some people put a great deal of time, energy and devotion into practicing and sharing their personal beliefs, whatever they may be. Others don’t give it much thought.
Let’s explore the topic a bit, shall we?
Asbury Village’s Perspective: Spiritual Health Is Not the Same as Religious Belief
Our history at Asbury Village is rooted in the Methodist faith, and we honor that heritage. The goal of our founders, however, was to create a caring community for people of all faiths and backgrounds. We even changed our name after being known as The United Methodist Village for 22 years, to better reflect the inclusive nature of our community.
While we have a chapel and a chaplain, and we offer various faith-based services, our concept of spiritual wellness is broader than a belief in and adherence to a particular system of faith. In our holistic approach to wellness, we view spiritual wellness as a single component of good health.
It’s one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellness that serve as the foundation for our lifestyle and wellness program, Living Easy, Living Well:
- Health Services
We believe that spiritual wellness centers on nurturing a sense of meaning and purpose. For some residents, that may involve participation in faith-based activities. For others, it may involve contributing their expertise and skills to build a better community.
Finding and nurturing a sense of purpose and meaning is a deeply personal endeavor. At Asbury Village, we provide a safe, comfortable place and ample opportunities for residents to choose their own path to spiritual wellness.
Meet Our Chaplain, the Rev. Jackie Havis-Shear
Reverend Jackie has served as Asbury Village’s chaplain since January 2021. She’s an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church. Before she retired, Reverend Jackie was a full-time ordained elder in the Church’s Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
She has two predominant areas of focus in her relationships with residents at Asbury Village, worship and study. Along with the scheduled worship services each week, she holds personal, one-on-one conversations with residents as the need arises.
“I’m always concerned about a person’s physical, spiritual, mental and emotional needs,” she said. “I look at the whole person. They may be suffering physically but be very healthy spiritually. But they still need attention and time and devotion from a pastoral leader, I believe.”
Reverend Jackie is involved in a lot of community activities, including the end-of-the-month breakfast buffet and Friday morning doughnut get-togethers. It’s often through these activities that more personal conversations with residents unfold, and those conversations frequently continue in subsequent encounters — sometimes on a weekly basis.
“God doesn’t just come in a church. Not in just a building. Not in just a chapel. God comes through so many different people and in so many different ways, and whatever way that person may find some peace or joy, maybe that’s how God is going to speak to them,” she said.
The Special Role of a Chaplain in a Retirement Community
As people get older, it’s not unusual for them to examine their beliefs about the existence of a higher power and what happens after death.
“As we age, we begin to think about things that maybe we’d never considered before,” Reverend Jackie said. “It can be a really important time in people’s lives.”
To make her point, Reverend Jackie shared the story of a resident who regularly attended services at Asbury Village. One Sunday, the woman brought Reverend Jackie a poem titled “Drinking From My Saucer,” which Reverend Jackie read aloud that day during the service. The poem described how blessed the woman felt because her life was so full. Her blessings had overflowed her teacup, so she was drinking from her saucer.
When the woman died, her son reached out to Reverend Jackie to see if she would speak at the memorial service. He told her there hadn’t been another religious leader in his mother’s life, which greatly surprised Reverend Jackie. When she told the son about his mother’s regular attendance at the Asbury Village worship services, he was equally surprised. He said his mother had never been a religious person and had not brought up her children to be religious.
Reverend Jackie read the woman’s poem at the memorial service. She said the family was in tears, because “they were reassured that somehow their mother had found a religious experience with Jesus” before she died. Neither Reverend Jackie nor the woman’s family knew when that change occurred.
Reverend Jackie said that being a chaplain in a retirement community is a “wonderful fit” for her.
“It’s a time in people’s lives when they just need assurance that everything’s going to be OK,” she said.
“I’ve been a minister for 25 years. I’ve never been a chaplain until now, and I wish I would’ve been a chaplain all my life.”
When asked what spiritual wellness means to her in her role as Asbury Village’s chaplain, Reverend Jackie replied, “Spiritual wellness is a continued interest in and commitment to discovering ways to grow faith deeper that brings forth joy and peace.
“We all find it in different ways. Even those who are not religious want their faith to grow. It takes on so many expressions. It can be faith in yourself, that you’ve been created to be this beautiful creature that contributes to humankind.”
Bible Study and Worship Services at Asbury Village
Like many other Alton retirement communities, we are still having separate services for independent living residents and assisted living residents because of COVID-19. The current schedule for worship services is as follows:
- Wednesdays at 10:30 AM — Worship services for assisted living residents
- Wednesdays at 1:00 PM — Bible study
- Fridays at 10:00 AM — Worship services for independent living residents
- Saturdays at 3:30 PM — Mass (conducted by Father Jerry Wickenhauser, who lives at Asbury Village)
- Sundays at 6:00 PM — Vespers (conducted by a rotating list of 15 visiting pastors from churches throughout the community)
Reverend Jackie noted that she and Father Jerry co-lead a combined service on certain occasions, such as Ash Wednesday. In addition, she leads a monthly conversation called Wisdom for Confusing Times, where residents get together to discuss issues that are concerning them and pray.
“We may feel very inadequate [to cope with these issues] as just one person, but when we broaden it to a larger community, we might feel more equipped,” she said.
According to her calculations, slightly more than half of the residents at Asbury Village participate in some type of faith-based activity.
How Do New Residents Handle the Transition?
People often develop deep bonds with their spiritual leaders and with other members of the congregation at their chosen place of worship. The prospect of no longer being part of that community can cause distress.
After moving to Asbury Village, some new residents continue to attend services at their local church or temple. Others might opt to attend services in the chapel here at Asbury Village and still support “their own church” financially.
Reverend Jackie said she sometimes can arrange for a new resident’s pastor to come to the Asbury Village chapel as a visiting pastor or come to bible study as a way of helping the resident make the transition.
“That makes the resident feel proud,” she said. “They have their pastor there, and the pastor can meet their new community.”
Can Non-Residents Attend?
Under usual circumstances, we can welcome people from outside of Asbury Village to our worship services, and Reverend Jackie says she looks forward to getting back to that. For now, though, because of COVID-19, we need to consider the safety of our residents first and limit the number of people attending each service.
“I want to be able to open up more,” Reverend Jackie said. “I want to get back to prayer breakfasts, where we can invite people from outside the community. And I’d love to have a Sunday Funday, where residents can invite their families to service in the chapel, and then afterward we can have a barbecue or something like that. We can’t go that big yet, because of the restrictions that are still in place.”
Your Own Spiritual Wellness Journey
If you would like to explore the opportunities to enhance your spiritual wellness at Asbury Village, contact us to arrange a visit. We can schedule a time when Reverend Jackie will be here if you would like to meet her.
We also invite you to learn more about our holistic approach to wellness on our wellness page.
Let us know if we can help you on your journey, or if you’d like to learn more about our community and independent living in Alton, Illinois. We look forward to hearing from you!