July 01, 2016
I was happy to have the opportunity to host our Spiritual Friday group at my church, Unity of Delray Beach. It's always lovely to be able to transport the patients out of a clinical setting and give them the chance to experience the sacred environment of a house of worship.
I often remind patients that the deep inner exploration and often painful work that is done in their clinical groups is spiritual because its purpose is to reveal and heal. Its purpose is to unearth all the darkness, shame, guilt, sadness, anger, and loneliness to discover who they really are; the Light of their spiritual identity is there. I often wonder how many prayers are said in those primary groups by both patients and family members – many I'm sure.
Wherever we are is a spiritual place because we are spiritual beings. And, wherever we are, spiritual experiences and awakenings can happen – in a therapist’s office, a meeting, the beach, or in the grocery line. We don't need to be in a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or any other house of worship to feel the presence of G-d. However, many of us want to experience the strength and great blessing of coming together with others in common purpose, in common love.
Our topic was "Releasing the Past and Embracing the Present." We led the patients through a ritual called The Burning Bowl Ceremony. This is a ritual most often done in the beginning of the year; however, in our recovery, each day is a new beginning and it’s crucial that we let go of the past so it doesn't continue to direct and define our lives.
The patients began our day with some readings:
"G=d is bigger than your past, your depression, your pain, your hate, your anger, your doubt, your fear, your shame, your eating disorder, your self-harm, your anxiety, your loneliness, your scars, this world. G-d is bigger." - biblequotebook.com
They read several anonymous quotes:
"Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about becoming everything that isn't you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place."
"Healing doesn't mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives."
Our ritual began with meditation followed by Charlene playing her crystal bowl.
Each patient was given a piece of flash paper on which they wrote down all that needed to be released: people, relationships, self-defeating attitudes, guilt, frozen anger, fears, hurts, drug of choice, mistakes, , self-centered behaviors, all that was holding them back from fully embracing their recovery and their healing.
I put on some beautiful music (linked below) and as the patients finished writing, they were asked to toss their paper in the fire with intention and commitment and watch it burst into flames and disappear. When they returned to their seats, they were given a handout to write a gratitude list in silence as a prayer to their Higher Power.
"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." - Dan Millman
Some comments from the patients:
- "It just feels good to be here. I feel grateful for Caron Renaissance and everyone that’s here for me."
- "It's hard to let go because I don't know who I am without it."
- "This was freeing and liberating."
- "I needed to let go and allow a relationship with my father and my sobriety."
- "It felt sad, but I liked letting of things that aren't good for me."
The community was grateful for everything: the sun, moon, love, humor, people who listen, pain, joy, family, therapists, sponsors, AA, the ability and desire to say thank you often, and Spiritual Fridays - just to name a few.
It was a really beautiful day, with beautiful people in a beautiful place. It's good to be sober and free.
Reverend Laurie Durgan