The Christian tradition of Easter and the Jewish tradition of Passover are rich with symbolism that profoundly resonates with the experience of recovery. The despair, hopelessness, and fear of those closest to Jesus that arose due to his crucifixion on the day known as Good Friday were replaced by great joy and comfort as they bore testimony to his resurrection. Passover marks the commemoration of when God visited the last of 10 plagues upon Pharaoh and passed over (Passover) the homes of the people of Israel thus liberating them from the bondage of slavery.
In similar fashion those entrapped by active addiction frequently experience profound despair, hopeless, bondage, and fear that there is seemingly no way out of this hell on earth. It is no accident that one of the most profound signature phrases of Ashley’s mission and motto is, “through death to life.” That is because active addiction is a kind of death. And recovery means many different things including the fact that people can and do recover their lives. St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits in the Catholic church called this “place” of desolation and deep disconnection (active addiction if you will) from the Universe, Higher Power, others, and ourselves, the dark night of the soul.
Maybe even today we have even found ourselves in a place of despair, hopelessness, bondage, and fear due to the events surrounding the pandemic. Perhaps you are feeling that sense of disconnection that has been profoundly unsettling and disturbing, all of which has been magnified by our need to maintain social distancing and isolation. How hard that is for people in recovery! Because we know that getting and staying connected is essential to long term recovery.
St. Ignatius had some thoughts on how to retrieve that sense of connection which he called consolation:
- PRAY: Often in desolation, we experience a sense of helplessness. As difficult as it is to feel God’s presence in such a state, turn to Higher Power and ask for help.
- MEDITATE: Meditate on those moments when you feel your Higher Power has intervened in your life, or for things for which you feel grateful–anything of awe, beauty, or reverence. Practice attentiveness to your surroundings, toward others, and your internal state.
- EXAMINATION: Examine possible sources within you and around you that brought on your disconnection from your Higher Power, others, and yourself. With insights gained, an unbearable heaviness can be reduced to a manageable concern.
- PENANCE: Make small, suitable gestures of courage and initiative. Reach out to others in ways such as online meetings and phone calls. Lean into your discomfort rather than run from it. Try new things, experiment, and allow hope to take root deep within your soul!
One of my favorite preachers who is a retired sociology professor and Baptist minister from Eastern University, Dr. Tony Campolo, talked about that movement through death to life. He likened it to moving from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and proclaimed, “But it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming!”
Dear friends, it feels like “Friday” in so many respects. But have hope! Use the resources that are available. You know what they are! We can and will endure. “Sunday’s coming!”
Ashley Spiritual Counselor