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​Spiritual Friday: Freedom from Bondage

Last Spiritual Friday, we had 10 patients volunteer to lead. These Fridays are always special. It is amazing how patients "rise" and offer their best to the community in loving service when asked and when someone trusts and counts on them to do so.

The group selected “Freedom from Bondage” as their topic for the day. They began by introducing themselves and stating what freedom from bondage meant to them:

  • "Being who I really am"
  • "Trying something new."
  • "Having the courage to love."
  • "Moving on from my past."
  • "Letting go of self defeating behaviors."
  • "Letting go of unresolved hurts.”
  • "When your soul is exposed, you are truly free."

This heartfelt sharing really set the tone.

Each patient leader chose their own way of expressing their unique gifts and spirituality. We had three artists in the group who prepared a "Freedom Mural". They asked each of the patients as they came into the group to grab a marker and write something that meant freedom to them. This will stay in the patient lounge for the next month and the patients will add to it if they'd like; it’s their own Wall of Freedom.

One of the patient leaders suggested placing a box in the patient lounge for anyone to anonymously contribute an original poem or writing. Here’s one:

"Trash"
Consuming consumes me... but can't fill me up.
Empty cup, empty places, regrettable faces;

the disappointment soon encases
everything that was and all that wasn't.

Cuz I couldn't keep going
and couldn't just stop.

Left a mountain of misery I created.
Delineated and dilated... my pupils

told the story
of what I abhor about me and
what’s changing by rearranging the placement of trash

inside the basement I craft.

All of us were visibly moved by this piece.

One leader asked a random, yet thoughtful, question: "If you could name the most welcoming trait in a mom, how would you answer?” Answers included: Acceptance, modesty, compassion, generosity, faith, patience, always seeing the good, and unconditional love.

Another question was: "If you could know anyone in their childhood, who would you say?” Answers included: Jesus, myself, Einstein, Robert Johnson, Plato, Bruce Lee

Several of the patients shared readings:

“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting go, then you'll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You'll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival because when you are unhappy, you also throw unhappiness all around.”- Osho

Another patient shared this:

"It isn't trauma that makes us sick. It's the inability to talk about the trauma.

Sharing our problems is one way to get rid of our internal garbage. It has been said that we are as sick as the secrets we keep. If we can't talk about our secrets with someone, we can at least write them down. Since no one else will ever need to see what we have written, we can be completely honest about what we thank and how we feel. If we have turned our wills and lives over to the care of G-d, we have nothing to be afraid of.

By honestly sharing what we think and feel, we are admitting that we own these thoughts and feelings, and they are a part of our lives. Anything that we own we can give away. What we get in return is freedom." - Our Best Days

One of the leaders led meditation by playing a crystal bowl for about 5 minutes and then there was silence. The freedom we found in the silence was beautiful.

In the small groups, patients were given an index card and asked to write down a secret that was keeping them sick - an event, a thought, an attitude, or a fear that they needed to free themselves from. The patients folded the cards up and placed them in a basket; the basket was passed and everyone pulled a card to read (not their own but it was OK if they got their own). This was very powerful and deeply moving. After we were finished, one group member wrote each person’s name on a piece of flying wish paper. This special paper was lit, burnt, and lifted up into the air. All that was left was a teeny ash - an offering to our Higher Power, a commitment to freedom. Everyone agreed that hearing someone say these secrets out loud made them very real.

I collected the cards and locked them in our prayer room at church to be prayed over for the next thirty days. This was very comforting for the patients.

"The march to freedom is irreversible." - Nelson Mandela

Do not let fear tempt you to return to a condition you have already outgrown. You've come too far to turn back now. Keep moving step by step, day by day, and the miracle of freedom will be yours.

I was so very proud of our patient Spiritual Leaders; they inspired and blessed us all.

Namaste,

Reverend Laurie Durgan