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Through the Red Door

Red Door

In the early days of the Church, when the front door of the parish was painted red it was said to signify sanctuary – that the ground beyond these doors was holy, and anyone who entered through them was safe from harm.

In the lives of many recovering people, it is through these same red doors that sanctuary is found on a daily basis. Initially that sanctuary may not have started in the rooms with high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, but in the basements and back rooms of churches where 12-step meetings are held.

This blog was created for recovering people to share the experiences they found walking through those doors of safety, refuge and peace.

 
To submit a entry to the blog, please click here for the details or contact us at info@episcopalrecovery.org.

  • 09/07/2016 11:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I was two months sober and my mind still foggy when my dad invited me to an Episcopal Recovery Ministries retreat.  Actually he didn’t invite me, he said, “I think you ought to come”, and I said “OK,” which was about all I was saying at that point.  So we went, my dad and I, who hadn’t had a good relationship since I was about 12.  I was flabbergasted that a church denomination would have an entire department devoted to recovery from addiction and alcoholism.  How did that happen?  They must have a bunch of drunks in their midst! 

    The retreat leader was a Catholic priest in recovery.  There were two more things I couldn’t wrap my head around – an alcoholic priest and a Catholic being at an Episcopal gathering.  If I wasn’t messed up before, now I was really confused!  But I played along.

    We went around the room introducing ourselves, telling how long we’d been sober, and what brought us to this retreat.  I said I was dragged there, and been sober 2 months.  The priest reached in his pocket and said, “Well, this must be for you!” and gave me a 2 month coin.  I already had a plastic poker chip coin, but this was a real metal coin – Wow!

    He told an old Native American story about Jumping Mouse which made no sense to me, and I don’t remember the rest of the weekend.  But I knew that I was hooked, and already planned to go the next year.  I don’t remember anything about that year either, but I know it was part of my recovery. 

    In addition to AA, my sponsor, working the 12 steps, and prayer; these retreats gave me a warm “coming home” feeling every year.  I started getting more and more out of each gathering, remembering more and more, and beginning to put into practice some of the things I learned.  It was good to see the same people every year, especially the ones whose first time coincided with mine.  We can now look back and laugh at crying our way through those first couple retreats. 

    All this to say – Thank you, thank you, Episcopal Church, for creating such a needed and special ministry for us drunks and addicts.  I, for one, may not have survived without it. 

    Rachel M, Birmingham, AL


  • 09/01/2016 3:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week I arrived outside of Iconic Ink, (a real place) for a consultation on two tattoos that I was getting as enduring reminders of two pilgrimages I have had the good fortune to take in the 12 months.

    In June last year I was blessed to travel to Assisi on my honeymoon with the love of my life. We met nearly five years ago when she relocated from another diocese to take a new position as rector of a neighboring parish. That happened on September 1, 2011, which also happens to be my sobriety date. Assisi, according to my new bride, is a “love drenched landscape.” That nails it in my opinion and experience. Francis and Clare are lurking around every medieval building and throughout the countryside that nurtured two of the most influential Christian lives in history.

    We hadn’t even been married yet when the opportunity arose to take a pilgrimage to Israel, Jerusalem, and the Occupied West Bank during the week of Passover and Orthodox Holy Week this year. We jumped at the chance. Needless to say it was a very special and poignant time personally and spiritually.

    I had been tattooed for the first time just before my sabbatical to Ireland in 2012. I was there in the first year of sobriety and on my own for several weeks. That was a graced time given that Guinness Stout was my drink of choice at the end of my drinking. St. Brigid and St. Brendan crosses had been inked into my shoulders as sort of a talisman on that way.  I was surrounded by grace and not a few AA meetings in Ireland during my stay in West Cork.

    Before I had left on that trip I had experienced a continuous if not rapidly growing belief in the truth of the Step 9 promises that are read in my home group before each meeting. Those promises end with this phrase, “We will suddenly see that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not!”

    As I walked in the door of Iconic Ink, I followed the proprietor who had arrived to unlock while I was waiting in my truck listening to the news of an earthquake in Umbria, not far from Assisi, and a story of the beating death of a Palestinian who had been jailed on suspicion of attacking an Israeli soldier the previous week. (God can weave some remarkable patterns in the tapestry of our lives if we take the time to step back and look!)

    He asked me, “What do you do for a living?”

    I told him I was a priest. He said, “I’ve never tattooed a priest before. I have inked a couple of my fellow deacons in the past.” He used to serve as a deacon at a neighboring UCC church near where I live.

    I told him that I was the first priest that each of my two previous tattoo artists had inked as well. I told him that one of them asked me, “Are you going to hell for getting tattooed.” And that the other one had asked, “Am I going to hell for tattooing you?”

    The proprietor of Iconic Ink and I shared a good laugh and then he told me that he had been raised Roman Catholic and only gone back to church after getting sober some 15 or so years ago. The spark of connection was swift and unmistakable (I suspect he may have seen among the many bumper stickers on the tailgate of my truck, ‘I’m a Friend of Bill W.’

    We talked a little bit of sobriety, a bit of church, and went on to work on the designs that he would inscribe on each of my calves in two days time. It was fellowship that only The Fellowship of AA has provided me on a regular basis.

    Two days later we opened up the shop together sharing stories, experiences, and views on sobriety and faith while we prepped for our session together. As he finished measuring, applying the stencils, and confirming the color schemes and selections, he asked me, “Should we pray first?”

    We joined hands over the table. I offered a prayer and we concluded with praying for one another’s families, our shared faith, and our continued sobriety. I have to say that was not one of my expectations as I planned to honor and remember these pilgrimages--that I would be praying with my tattoo artist on a bright summer morning.

    This vignette is only the latest in a string of graced events that I have received since I started living the Promises of AA with a confidence born of experience. A new ministry, a new wife, a new circle of friends, and deepening friendships that had shallowed out until I got serious about working on spiritual fitness as the bedrock of each day of sobriety that I am blessed to live.

    Life is full of unexpected graces. I have learned to expect the unexpected with varying levels of faith and confidence since I turned my life and will over the power of God and the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Are these extravagant expectations? I think not!!!

    -Anonymous


  • 08/10/2016 10:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have been in the program for 41 years and have often been conflicted between what is happening outside the rooms and what happens inside. Chaos outside, rioting in the streets, anger, racial conflict, political hatred, gun violence and too much "stuff” happening not to mention it in the rooms at a meeting.

    But we don't. We practice the fifth tradition; our primary purpose remains carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

    Can you remember your first several meetings, sitting in the rooms in physical and emotional pain, wondering what these people were doing? What a different experience it would have been if folks were making political speeches to each other about the current presidential candidates or the latest liberal or conservative hot button issue?

    In the great wisdom of the program, we heard people speak of the importance of honesty, of the unmanageability of their lives, of working the steps and the importance of having a sponsor. We heard men and women speak of ravages alcohol had done to their personal lives, how we destroyed the trust of our spouses and children, of our professional colleagues and siblings, and destroyed our own sense of self-respect and integrity.

    What I needed when I came into my first few meetings was what I couldn’t get from a newspaper or NPR: I needed a place where I could face my shame and guilt; a place where people would laugh about things I cried about; a people who would love me when I hated myself; care for me when I loathed who I was; a program that addressed the corners of my life which I wanted to hide; and offer me the light of hope in my life of darkness. By their talking about things they had done, the secrets of my own life had a new light shone on them and I had to own and takes responsibility of my life.

    AA dropped a life-line to me while the rest of the world was busy with other things…important things but extraneous to what was my greatest problem. While I was busy talking about political solutions to the world’s problems, my alcoholism was destroying my home, my health and my professional standing in the community.

    What I needed was someone to help me separate the important from the busy. Of course what is happening in the streets is important but that wasn’t my greatest need and problem. I needed help to see what I could do something about and what I had to leave alone and let others solve. I thought I had to solve everything. The Serenity Prayer became an important part of those first few days, weeks and months. It still is.

    The traditions are a part of AA as much as the Steps and it is critical we practice them in times of social unrest. Talk about other issues over coffee…talk about the program in meetings.

    -Joe C

  • 08/05/2016 1:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

    By most accounts I was managing my life as a father, husband and parish priest fairly well. I made all the appointments on my calendar. I made sure that the laundry was done, my son was off to school with lunch or money for lunch. I preached faithful and fairly orthodox sermons each Sunday. Somehow, in spite of my drinking, I seemed to be managing just fine, thank you very much.

    Why, then, was I generally irritable and discontent? I managed to do all of the above fairly well, but there was a dimension lacking that I had found so palpable during seminary. I wasn’t enjoying my life very much. I had managed to get good grades, passed all seven areas of the General Ordination Exam with relative ease. It is easy now to recognize that my drinking was the problem. Until I managed to get my sorry self back into the program (Thanks Be To God!), I was existing. I was managing. I wasn’t really LIVING!

    When I did find my way back to the basements of churches (without my collar for nearly the first year) I saw people that were doing more than managing their lives. They were living them. The reality of that, as God’s hope for me and for everyone, was to really live our lives. I remember a young woman from one of the halfway houses saying in a meeting that until she had found the program and really started working the steps, especially Step One, that she “felt like an understudy in her own life.”

    The scales dropped from my eyes and I remembered Jesus saying in John’s Gospel, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (10:10) I was trying to manage life when God’s invitation was to live abundantly!

    Once I gave myself over to the will of God for my life and focused on ‘doing the next right thing’ and being true to the self that “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), I was never going to live my life, much less really enjoy it.

    Little by slow, I gave up the management of my life to God and his purpose for me in any given circumstance. Lo and behold, I really started to enjoy my life without having to go to the effort of controlling people, places, things and events and managing the expectations of anyone other than God for me. I started to find freedom and peace that I hadn’t known in a long time.

    There are still plenty of rough patches and bumps, but hey, that’s life. A life that’s lived as opposed to one that I try and manage. I’ll take the former any day! 

    -Warren H.

  • 07/30/2016 7:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Although far removed from the Fifth Sunday in Lent, this last week in July gives me an annual chance to ponder anew the raising of Lazarus in the eleventh chapter of John.

    I have always loved this story, and found great joy in preaching on friendships tried, expectations challenged, reliance on God – all leading up to the triumphant “Lazarus, come out!” All very well and good, and let’s get on to Holy Week. What I didn’t yet know was the best part of the story was yet to come.

    Some of the circumstances of my life, partly growing up gay in the 1960s in the suburbs of the Midwest, formed me as a chameleon. Early on, I became deft at wearing whatever guise I thought might be expected of me, changing masks when it seemed desirous or necessary.

    One of the masks I tried on late in life was a social life of recreational drug use. It was like finding a ticket to an amusement park I never knew existed. Of course, amusement park life and real life could never meet. Now there were two complete sets of masks.

    And I learned, as many of us have learned, it was fun --- until it wasn’t. Fun to habit to problem to utter chaos. I struggled to solve my addiction on my own before anyone else found out. After all, it was my fault, right?

    As the unmanageability of my life skyrocketed, my energies were directed at keeping those two sets of masks apart, with increasingly less success. And then it happened, my worlds collided, and I hit a bruising and humiliating bottom.

    The days immediately after were the darkest I had ever known, culminating in dragging my frightened, defeated self into my Bishop’s office saying, “help.” Slowly, help arrived. Often from the people I had hurt the most.

    And this, of course is the point of the Lazarus story I had previously overlooked, and now live by. After Lazarus is alive, but not yet living, Jesus turns to the crowd saying, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Take all those masks off of him, and let him begin to live as the person God made.

    And from that day to this, through the grace of God, and with the Steps and Fellowships, I try to practice resurrection, to live unbound by the masks of self. And this new life is often not what I want, certainly not what I had planned. But, day by day, if I pay attention, it is the life that I need. Thanks be to God!

    Paul J.


  • 07/22/2016 12:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid. I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. I was afraid I’d fail. I was afraid I couldn’t do it perfectly. I was afraid there was something fundamentally wrong with me that wasn’t wrong with other people and I would never be able to live comfortably in the world.

    Then I learned that fundamental thing was a God sized hole in my soul. There was treatment for that, and treatment for the other thing, the alcoholism, the insidious unscrupulous disease that thrived on fear and self-loathing.

    My alcoholism is arrested and abstinence has been possible only through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Admitting powerlessness over alcohol and all mind altering substances, giving my life to God daily, taking a thorough inventory and giving it away, praying for removal of my defects of character that stand in the way of my usefulness to my brothers and sisters in the world, trying not to engage in behavior that impedes my spiritual growth or is hurtful to me or those around me, checking in with myself every day that I’m on the right path, maintaining that relationship with God and helping others, that’s my treatment.

    I used to think the fear would go away, or the self-loathing. I’d get rid of that stuff for good and skip down the road of happy destiny. After years of experience, the truth is the fear doesn’t go away and often times the self-loathing and feelings of unworthiness continue to percolate just beneath the surface. Only now I see the fear as a little child, and sometimes my terrified adolescent self that only wants to keep me safe. If she can keep me from taking too many risks, stepping out into the unknown with no circus net to cradle our fall because she thinks, inevitably we will fall, then she can keep us safe and sound, and we will never experience grief or loss or pain or rejection. Sometimes, she’s really loud and persistent, and before too long I look at my life and realize I’m holding myself back from experiencing the fullness of life because I got too comfortable in a job I didn’t like, or stayed too long in a relationship that was destructive.  All tangled up in that mess is fear, feelings of unworthiness, and not being capable. But I have these tools, this fellowship, and these people-mostly women-that I can come to with my desire for change and my fear of change, and tell them what’s going on. I talk about it, out loud, in a group full of women, who share their fears and feelings of unworthiness. These women have walked the path ahead of me and moved the big boulders out of the way. They stand in the light and wave me on saying, “This way. It’s ok. It’s safe. It’s super scary but it’s safe, too. Cause we’re here.” And the fundamental truth, underneath all of it, is that we are God’s beloved. That is the fundamental truth of who we are. We are not our fear, or unworthiness, or our character defects, or our limitations. We are God’s beloved.

    -Holly C. 


  • 07/18/2016 11:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As I sit in the AA meeting this Saturday morning at 9 I think of the reaction of so many people to the violence in Dallas, Louisiana, Minnesota, 5 policemen (now 8), 2 black men killed.  People talk about returning violence for violence, questioning how could there be a loving God who would allow this to happen, no longer believing in God.

    I know violence can never overcome violence.  For those who question the presence of God, I want to drag them to this AA meeting. This is where the God of my understanding lives. This is a room full of people who had stinking thinking not dissimilar to the thinking of those who killed others this week. Somehow the people I see coming into this meeting have changed, and they now represent a room full of miracles, people trying to lead a different life, knowing that there is a God who saved them and trying to make a difference in the world because they were rescued.

    The meeting is on the second step, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Two people, a balding man and a young attractive woman pick up 24 hour chips. Rarely seen. No birthdays. 

    One middle aged attractive woman with many years in AA talks about how her sponsor first asks her about her higher power. Hers is a vengeful God keeping records of all her many wrong doings. Her sponsor looks her in the eye and tells her, “I want to loan you my God for 2 weeks. My God likes to be read to, likes to hear these meditations each morning. My God likes to hear the Serenity Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis each evening before you go to bed. My God likes to talk to you like you talked to him as a child, on your knees by your bed.” Just these simple things change her life and she then says in passing, “I get into trouble when I am in a hurry and only say these prayers on one knee as I go out the door.”

    The group talks a great deal about sanity. One woman speaks out, “ When I went to treatment and heard the second step, I kept saying, ‘I am not insane!”’ Her counselor finally asks her, “ Does it help for you to think about where you are?” She bows her head and says, “I think I am in a psychiatric hospital.” Many talk about realizing they are insane when they hear the definition. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expected a different result. Yes, we are insane, but by some miracle we are being restored to sanity, trying to find a new result following a new way of life.

    I am so grateful I am in this place today.

    Joanna

  • 07/06/2016 10:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Summer is short, but daylight hours seem longer, especially in northern climes where sunbeams linger ‘til stars flood a midnight sky.  Summer’s idle hours are ideal for lazing on a lakeside dock listening to the wind stir tall pines, or on the swaying foredeck of a sloop at anchor, or long interminable drives to nay-cation with relatives… hours filled with games: “I spy with my little eye…”; or, songs; “what do we do with a drunken sailor” / “the wheels on the bus go…”; or, stories by the fire pit: family legends and memories ghost stories; whatever springs to mind.

    Stories from scripture? As it turns out, there’s an imaginative twist on holy writ that is purpose-built for summertime. The life of Christ is highly episodic, filled with incidental characters to drive the narrative: random, faceless men and women who emerge to be counseled, blessed or healed, then neatly disappear. Summer’s hollow hours are brilliant opportunities to flesh out these stories… perhaps, some of these bit players were mired in addiction. Who knew? 

    Jesus curing the ten lepers (Luke 17, 11-19) is ripe for picking. The story unfolds in a village on the border between Samaria and Galilee as Jesus preaches his way toward Jerusalem. One leper bellows, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”  That’s certainly a wide-open appeal with roomy expectations. It seems this bold leper knew Jesus, or at least had heard of Him.  For his part, Jesus didn’t give the plea much shrift – just another infirm, diseased and deformed outcast on the outskirts of a hard-scrabble village.  Indeed, He dismissed them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” No way! This is crazy. Priests don’t welcome lepers, they despise them as foul, contaminated by sin and disease.  But, they went anyway – group courage?  Hey! Just like in our own recovery.  Before the lepers even arrived at the synagogue, they were cleansed.

    One, a Samarian, we’ll call him Jonah, came back and thanked Jesus, who blessed him and sent him along – Christ always sends us to “carry the message”.  “What about the other nine?”, Jesus wants to know. Well, what about ‘em?

    As it happens, Jonah had come back because he and David, the only Samaritans among the ten, were trekking home and Jesus was on their route.  David had raced on, because he’d been stricken only recently and was frantic to comfort his young family. It hadn’t occurred to him (yet) that they were in God’s care too. 

    The remaining locals were detained by amazed and wary priests, dithering between praise to heaven and damage control.  Eventually, the priests bogged down in their own deliberations, so the exultant lepers uttered thanks and slipped away.

    Anne hurried to the marketplace where her brother sold nuts and seeds and while she regaled village women with droll wisecracks and comic tales.  Anne made every day a celebration. 

    Samuel hastened to his forge, now in the custody of his idiot cousin. Samuel liked his craft, but prized his customers and relished devising clever answers to their needs. 

    Jonah had hated his disgrace, the ignominy and degradation, the stench of his rags even more than his disfigurement and pain.  His unexpected cure stunned him.  Lost in self-pity, he remained agonized, isolated and numb.

    Trevor, (we’re making this up, so the names needn’t be strictly Hebrew) remained with the priests.  He cherished the scriptures and admired the learned ones for their wisdom and devotion. Having been so favored by God, perhaps he could contribute to their understanding.

    Paul tracked down Averill, his nemesis and partner in a toxic feud that has layered fresh resentments since they were young men, hoping that smug sonofabitch would choke on Pauls’ great favor with God.

    Aaron and Susan have been many years married and were jointly afflicted. They had each other and, basking in God’s lavish grace, left the village to seek out other lepers and pariahs, bringing them care and comfort and inspiring hope among the hopeless. 

    Shy Meg returned to her family and spoke little of the miracle and the Healer.  As she and the others departed from Jesus, she’d looked back at Him, walking with his friends in the late afternoon sunlight.  She held that image in her heart and from time to time, encountering others of the ten in their small village, she sensed their shared gratitude. He had changed everything.

    We, too, in recovery are transformed.  As addicts, we go as a group to show ourselves to our various priests. We live our lives, practice our trades and professions, dodge our fears, seethe in our resentments, rejoice in our loves and serve others as best we can.  We are healing.  We are the ten.

    Ice cream, anybody?   Happy Summer! 

    -Martin

  • 06/30/2016 7:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I heard, early on, that god, whatever it is, doesn’t give you more than you can handle (nor less than you can handle, btw!)

    She asks me one day, “Will you accept Jesus as your lord and savior?”
    I answer, “Yes, I got nothin’ to fear from Jesus ((I had been sober, the first round, for 10 or 11 years, 7 years in ACoA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Other Dysfunctional Families) and was crystal-clear that there is something out there, why not Jesus. Besides I had had a visit from Jesus on a “walk with Jesus” mile on some spiritual retreat years before.))!” And added, “as long as I can continue to discuss and ask questions.”  She agrees.

    She asks me soon after, “Can we marry? I want to be right with Jesus and be married in the eyes of god as well as in our hearts.”

    I answer, “Yes. I got nothin’ to fear from marriage!” [grimace]

    It is impossible for me to believe how much love surrounds me now. I came from such awful ancestry. Bigoted, abusive, neglectful, grasping, criminal folk came before me and were charged with raising me. Only my grandma, “magu,” rescued me from full ‘confirmation’ in the family tree. Bio-mom completed what magu could not, I lost magu only three years after I found her-before my 5th birthday [swallow]. Bio-mom tried out an Adult Children of Alcoholics and Other Dysfunctional Families meeting on a Wednesday – the “teddy bear meeting” in Spokane, Washington. Bio-mom was so strangely changed and calmed, something I had never seen before. Then she went to the ACoA meeting again the next week and the calm and the stillness happened again. I was so stricken by this powerful affect that a few years later, while in college, my friends and I were commiserating over how crazy our social backstabbing was that I spoke up that my mom had gone to this place and clearly felt better after.

    We got to the meeting and this being the early 90’s there were 50 people in the room. We had to break into 4 groups after the leader shared in order to let everyone have a chance to share. Our dozen was in a small office and I sat on the carpet for lack of chairs. A woman on the couch shared and cried like a snotty mucus mess. I was floored. I thought, “Wow, it’s safe to share and cry! Cry in front of these people!?” I continued attending ACOA meetings for 7 years. I host an online ACOA meeting, now.

    After 7 years of ACOA meetings, I finally said, “Maybe alcohol’s a problem.” Fortunately, I uttered this to a fellow in both fellowships. He said, “Well, why not come try out a meeting?”

    It is so strange that it is a “moral” remedy that maintains my relationship to Self-sean. Three years ago I acquired severe neuropathy in both feet and I am stuck at home 80% of the time. Eclipsing face to face meetings, god has handed me the mission to seek out the fellowship as a disabled person and this seems too great to bear. Thing is, my life has become full and purposeful in spite of my disability. In fact, the leader of one of my 12 step fellowships called me today to talk about some more adjustments to make to the meeting listings to help folks that are stuck with only the internet to nourish their moral remedy. It is vital to rant, to plead, to yell and to cry. Sometimes expletives are shouted. This is all to clear out the past so the sadness can see the sun and being a sad man is more and more ok with me.

    I cannot, will not, need not, turn my back on the 12 steps. Drowning and lost, I found a place in the life boat. Life! [tears]

    -Anonymous


  • 06/22/2016 9:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The world is a harsh, violent, scary place these days and the massacre in Orlando put me over the edge. The word on the street is that we are sensitive creatures, we alcoholics and addicts. More so than the average person. Maybe it’s a genetic predisposition to sensitivity, or maybe it’s because of the trauma of abuse many of us endured as children, the jury’s out on that one, but even Bill wrote, “We alcoholics are sensitive people.” (BB p.125) He knew.

    I often feel out of place in the world even after 15 plus years of sobriety and spending the last 27 years in Alcoholics Anonymous. The violence we human beings perpetuate against each other is devastating and last week, one more time, I’m shaking my head and thinking, “Really!? Again!?” When are going to learn? When are going to care for each other in a way that acknowledges the dignity of every human being? When are we going to act more like Jesus? When? And so I lose hope. I can’t easily shake off the despair of loss, whether it’s 60 million refugees displaced by war and violence in their countries or the 50 in Orlando or the sadness that I feel every time I drive by the tents of the homeless under the Gower over pass on my way to the church every day in Hollywood. I feel helpless and hopeless and powerless.

    And then I walk into a meeting. The same meeting I have walked into for the last 10 years. My home group: 9am Came to Believe. We read from the collection of stories from the short but spiritually packed book, Came to Believe, and we share our experience of God, our spiritual journeys, our doubts, our fears, our sadness, our joys, our grief, our successes. We talk about trusting God, and finding joy in the little things. We talk about the harsh realities of the world and how sometimes we feel like going out there again, seems absolutely impossible. Then someone shares about how she did it, how she mustered the courage to go into the world, one more time, and do what needs to be done, and everything was ok. God was there. And the room is filled with hope, again.

    God is always there. God meets me in my grief and holds me in arms so big and wide and gentle and merciful that I can move through the world with a little more hope. The women of AA fill me with enough strength and courage to muster the energy to get out there and do my best and believe that through unity, recovery and service, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” Julian of Norwich

    -Holly C.

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