Unlike most communities of our size, Summerhill is fortunate to be able to offer in-house spiritual care to our residents. As other staff provide excellent medical, nutritional, physical and social care, so our interfaith chaplain attends to the spiritual and religious aspects of residents' lives.
Each week our Chaplain, Barbara Harlow, leads a lively spiritual conversation with residents in Assisted Living that includes rituals and spiritual practices from a variety of faith traditions, listening to readings, sharing in times of silence, reflecting on our spiritual lives and relationships with the divine, and singing and praying with one another in a non-denominational, interfaith setting. These facilitated conversations provide a safe context in which residents tell the stories of their lives and deepen their relationships with one another.
Likewise, every week, our chaplain leads members of our memory care community in a time of non-denominational, ecumenical worship. This includes prayer, simple rituals and blessings, stories and poetry from sources ranging from the Bible to beloved American author E. B. White, conversation, and of course, singing. We sing all the old familiar hymns and spirituals, fitting folk songs, and even an occasional song from the great American songbook.
Our chaplain also leads a lovely group of Catholic residents in a weekly time of Rosary prayers. Additionally, clergy from several churches in Peterborough come to Summerhill and offer religious worship, Bible study, and even a time of drop-in conversation. For residents who desire to join a local church, our chaplain assists them in making connections and finding transportation if it is needed.
Through ongoing daily contact, our chaplain comes to know each resident and many of their family members. In this way she nurtures a context of deep familiarity within which she is able to support folks in the ups and downs of their daily lives, offer pastoral care when needed, and when the time comes, provide comfort and spiritual care at the end of life to both residents and their families.
Rev. Barbara Harlow
Rev. Barbara Harlow is an ordained interfaith community minister who believes that there are likely as many spiritual and religious practices and valid paths to the divine, as there are human hearts to explore this great mystery! And, as an interfaith minister she is prepared to accompany anyone, no matter their particular religious stripe (or lack thereof), on their path through this human sojourn. She makes her religious home in the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church.