Note from Niles: I know this blog is about Soulfulness and Sobriety, but my own recovery story (and life story) includes being enamored with and trying to follow the example of Jesus of Nazareth. So, if historical Christian terms are not your thing or bother you, I suggest you stop reading; if they do not, then read on. This is taken from a previously written blog on Easter that I have re-written and revisioned from the standpoint of Recovery and Resurrection.
Happy Resurrection Day (as I like to call Easter Sunday).
A few years ago, on what liturgical churches call Holy Saturday, I attended ‘Easter Vigil’ services at the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia. Never having attended Lenten services at a monastery, I was not sure what the experience would bring. My initial thoughts were that I felt I had stepped back in time, in a wonderful way: the historical richness and the ever-present reality providing sacred collusion. The pews were hard, thick dark wood made by local friends, there was darkness, candles, prayers, chanting and singing in Latin and English, kneeling, bowing, and of course, the Eucharist. It a delightful, albeit long, experience – over two hours.
What I have learned in my life of studying and even knowing a few, Catholic monks do almost nothing quickly.
And in this world of immediate gratification, I was afforded the ‘time’ to slow down, breathe, and attune my being to God’s all-pervading and loving Presence permeating the place.
All this pausing got me to thinking about the reality of Easter; about resurrection and the relationship between the concept of “Resurrection” to recovery from addiction in general and my recovery specifically.
To many people of faith, the shadowy, yet hopeful day in between – in between the crucifixion of Friday and the empty tomb of Sunday – reminded me that for people in recovery (as with people of faith) we are truly a people on the Way…in transition and on a journey.
Like believers who live between the tension of the crucifixion and the resurrection, people in recovery are those who must live between two tensions as well: that of being an addict (bound in some ways to the past and our pain) and that of being people in recovery (set free from the bondage of active addiction to live lives of love and service).
People who believe, are often called a “Good Friday People”; all we need to do is look around at all the pain and suffering in our world and in our hearts. Those of us who have been bound by the chains of addiction, death and despair are too in some ways a “Good Friday People” – we have crucified and been crucified repeatedly.
But the glorious news for believers is also glorious news for addicts and alcoholics: death does not have to have the final say.
There is hope; there is another way; there is a different ending to the story of addiction.
We must all face the drudgery of daily life, and for those in recovery, we must face the drudge day after day: from the toxic shit of withdrawal to the painstaking days of fighting our way past the obsession and compulsion to get high – our Good Friday moments come much more than one day a year.
And as we move on in our journeys of recovery, we come to understand more deeply the concept of “living life on life’s terms” – living with and through the smaller pains and frustration of life, and the larger tragedies that can beset us.
These Good Friday times are painful, no doubt, but they serve a purpose of molding us into a people of hope and healing; a people deeply spiritual and connected to Creator. We are a people who have come to a deeper reliance upon grace rather than human sensibilities in ways that leaves many Christians wanting.
Yes, we must go through (and not around) Good Friday – as in recover, so in life.
Good Friday moments connect us more to each other and God was we experience God. These Good Friday moments teach us some of the ebb and flow of grace.
But as I have said Good Friday moments are not the final word.
As for Christians on Easter Sunday, so too are people in recovery – we must remember that resurrection and hope are the final words. Addiction is not the final word; despair is not the final word.
Our emptiness, our addictions, our pain and sickness, our loneliness and poverty (even our death) are not the last word from the world. They are merely a word, but not the word. The resurrection of hope and recovery; the restoration of life that comes sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly us the Final, all glorious, Word spoken to us.
Hear God speak to you this truth: “Death is not the end. Addiction is not the end. Fear is not the end. I AM the End that has no end; I AM the Beginning; I AM the Hope and Love for which you long and My Love for you is all-embracing and eternal.”
Let’s celebrate this Truth together, for we in recovery are Good Friday and Easter Sunday all rolled into one. We are a people living in the creative tension of the already and the not yet of the Resurrection.
So this Easter, I pray we in recovery all go deeper: deeper into God; deeper into Life; deeper into the journey of recovery and deeper into each other to experience this power called hope, this power called life, this power called resurrection.