January 08, 2016
Last week, our group met at Unity Church and we celebrated the beginning of a new year and a new life and a new commitment to our Higher Power with the Burning Bowl Ceremony. This is a ritual we do each year at the New Year. As they entered the Sanctuary, each patient received a piece of flash paper, a piece of lined paper, a pen and an envelope. The patients wrote down all that they wanted to leave behind, all that they needed let go of and not carry anymore.
One by one, they ceremoniously walked up and dropped their paper into a fire - their papers "flashed" and then disappeared leaving NOTHING behind. The patients walked back to their seats in silence, honoring the sacredness of their community's experience together. When seated, they were asked to write down their commitment to themselves and their Higher Power – what they intend to do to help G-d help them, what they are willing to do to be the answer to their prayers, how they plan to "Let G-d."
Our day began in the usual way, opening with a patient explaining the purpose of Spiritual Fridays for our newcomers. Then we had our spiritual readings. Here is one of them:
As the year comes to a close, I take time for reflection. The new year is a traditionally a time to release old thoughts and beliefs, launch new projects and change old patterns.
I ask myself: What troubles from the past am I ready to release? What hurts am I ready to forgive? What experiences and relationships do I want to manifest in the new year?
I become still and turn within, opening my heart and mind to answers from the Spirit of G-d within me. I prayerfully consider which step are mine to take and remember to be patient with myself as I bravely try something new. Change happens one step at a time.
-Daily Word (12/31/15)
Forgiveness is a big piece to this spiritual ritual and as we began, we began with forgiveness and meditation. Below is a portion of the meditation as well as the music we played, as the patients wrote their release list.
Be still. Allow your body, your mind, your heart to settle down, to be quiet for just a few minutes. There is peace within you. So many of you have believed this is not so, you have believed that there can be no peace for you but this is not true – there is peace within you.
There is a place within you untouched, protected from the ravages of your addiction, a place that is full of peace, love, wisdom, light and strength. You will find it, feel it, and accept it as you do this work, as you uncover, as you let go, as you heal, as you accept the truth of who you are.
Say to yourself: If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness.
If anyone has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly through their own confusions, I forgive them.
And if there is a situation that I am not yet ready to forgive, I forgive myself for that.
For all the ways, that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions, I forgive myself.
Stop struggling and trust your Higher Power. Surrender. Love is a power in your life that is constant. Wherever you are, that love is, too. Ask that love (Higher Power) what it is you need to release and let go of. Listen...
You are not what you have done but rather you are what you have overcome. You are a spiritual being worthy and capable of having the life you long for, a life of joy and love and peace and a beautiful sense of belonging and purpose.
Your bondage is not of G-d but of your own unwillingness and fear of surrender.Set yourself free from self defeating attitudes, an individual, loved one, your old self, shame, guilt, remorse over what could have been, frozen anger, self centered behavior, mistakes, false opinions and beliefs about yourself or others, all things that keep you in a self imposed prison. Let go, let G-d.
Afterwards, as the patients wrote their commitments I played "No Day But Today".
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It was the best day. One of our patients asked to get up and speak and for the first time, he called his fellow patients his "family". He shared his commitment to them to work hard to change and treat them with love and respect.
In closing, I asked the patients if anyone wanted to share their experience. Here are some of the responses:
- "This just made New Year’s Eve so much more meaningful than ever before."
- "The forgiveness prayer... for all the times that I harmed myself, the prayer helped me so much; it comforted me."
- "It was so powerful ’seeing’ all that pain burn and then have nothing left."
- "Writing my commitments to myself and Higher Power was really powerful. And when you asked us to ’let go’ like we really, really meant it, I did!"
- "I'm putting my commitment letter in my Big Book."
The patients left with a copy of the Forgiveness Prayer to continue to meditate with, as well as the following Angel Card:
Wondrous possibilities and opportunities
Stop dwelling on past mistakes.
Surrender the past lovingly,
there is nothing to regret.
All is always in perfect and divine order.
Everything that you've experienced
has helped you in some way.
The past is behind you,
the path ahead is clear.
Move forward joyfully
and fulfill your heart's desire.
They were also given an electric tea light as a reminder of the day and the Light within them that will always guide them IF they listen, IF they surrender, IF they trust.
Happy, healthy, prosperous, love-filled New Year my friends!
Reverend Laurie Durgan