February 05, 2016
We had all the patients at my church this past Friday for what is called the White Stone Ceremony. This ceremony is held at the church every year in January and I thought it would be helpful and meaningful for the patients to experience this freedom ritual in a sacred setting.
I should have known it would be an unusually mystical day; as I was preparing and setting up, we had a major power outage - no lights, no sound, no power. There's always a message, a lesson for us. I was so excited about an absolutely beautiful meditation song and then the power went out. This totally opened the door for one of our patients to play the piano, not from ego, not as a performance, but as a spiritual offering to the community. It was perfect. We lit candles throughout the church; it was so quiet, so still, and the music was heavenly.
The White Stone Ceremony is an ancient ritual that goes back hundreds of years. When someone served time in prison, they were given a white stone when they were released. This helped separate those who had escaped prison and those who had been freed after serving their time. Not unlike the prisoners hundreds of years ago, we have endured painful imprisonment in our addictions. We have been in bondage and we have set ourselves free in our surrender. But, are we really free? Fear, beliefs, attitudes, anger, shame - so much can keep us prisoners; so much can keep us from living happy, joyous, and free.
The inspiration for this ritual comes from a Scripture in the Book of Revelations:
"Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit...To everyone who is victorious I will give some manna that has been hidden away in heave, and I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name..."
This passage is interpreted as a spiritual experience - hearing G-d (Higher Power), that small voice speaking to all of those who have surrendered and are willing to listen. Manna, spiritual food, will be given and mind and heart will become new like the white stone, a clean slate. Then a new name will come, a special message in a word or two, to one who listens.
The patients were given a white stone from Hebron, Israel as they entered the Sanctuary. We had our usual opening and several readings followed by music and meditation. Then we gave the patients time to pray, listen, and hear their special word or message that they then wrote on their stone - a symbol of their "freedom from the bondage of self".
Some of the words that were written on the stones: Worthy, soar, awake, love, surrender, confident, not alone, courage, never broken again, choice, sacrifice, hope.
Spirit (G-d) is simply so good. Toward the end of our ritual, the power came back (we were told it would be the next day before it would come on) and I was able to play the song "Peace". The first 3 minutes and 25 seconds is the meditative portion - enjoy the peace.
"We will be amazed before we are half way through. We will know a new freedom and a new happiness..." - The Promises
This new freedom is a spiritual freedom and comes as a result of our spiritual work: the steps, treatment, forgiveness..
A simple truth is that it is often our most painful experiences that lead us to deepened self-discovery, to growth and freedom. The more we accept this truth, the more we can view our difficult and painful situations as an opportunity to appreciate life and finally feel free.
Some of the questions we asked in small groups were:
- What is your word and what does it mean to you?
- How free do you feel today?
- What are you willing to do to free yourself?
- How can your Higher Power help free you?
- Whose freedom would you like to pray for today?
The patients left with their stones and a handout that read:
JUST FOR TODAY
I will expect the best of
I will not re-visit yesterday
nor contemplate tomorrow.
I will celebrate this day and
rejoice in all that is good
and beautiful in my Life.
I will walk hand in hand with G-d
and I will fear nothing.
Reverend Laurie Durgan