Carol “Zhara” Lee, M. Div., is a local Sufi leader for the Shadhiliyya Sufi Center. Her title as Sufi minister is murabbi rahi, or “caretaker of the soul.” The Shadhiliyya Sufi Center is a national organization, but Carol is leader for the Northeast region. In early August, she held the Boston-area Sufi retreat here at the Walker Center. According to Carol, the retreat exists to help people slow down and reconnect with their Source. People come from all over the country - and some even from outside of the country - to receive spiritual guidance, pastoral counseling, and inner healing.
“There is a focus in our spiritual communities to help other people,” Carol says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Sufi or not.”
Carol has been hosting “Sufi school” here in Boston for twelve years, but 2018 was their first year at The Walker Center. The group had been meeting at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary, which closed in 2017. After the closure, the group was in need of a welcoming space that could accommodate Sufi practices, such as a halal diet, a room for prayer five times a day, and space for an overnight prayer vigil. Luckily, they were able to easily switch their retreat location to the Walker Center.
Carol spoke with pride about the retreat. It was evident that those who attended left with a sense of inner spiritual renewal and a deeper connection to God.
“The people that came to our event - for many of them it was life-changing,” Carol said. “For some people, their relationships changed with each other, or with a spouse. Healing physically happens for people when they come. If they were depressed they don’t feel that depression; they feel like there’s hope. They feel uplifted and fed by being in community.”
This retreat is one of three hosted by the Shadhiliyya Sufi Center all across the U.S. There is one in Boston, one in Pennsylvania, and one in Texas. Carol explained that these local events are good for people who have families or don’t have the time or money to travel to the Mother Center in California. They provide a point of access for people to receive healing, have spiritual questions answered, and be in community together.
Twelve years ago, when the retreat first started, the group had trouble finding an affordable space is Boston. Many organizations charged for their rooms by the hour, which would have made affording their overnight prayer vigil virtually impossible. Carol shared how she had prayed for a place to find. She remembers looking into 24 different places in Boston before finding Andover-Newton. After their closure, Carol was happy to have The Walker Center as an alternative space that her organization could afford.
“Having this space was so important,” she said. “I don’t even know where’d we’d be if we didn’t have an affordable space... We’re looking forward to coming back.”
The Directors' Desk
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