The Gathering

09/16/2015 9:16 PM | Anonymous
"What's The Gathering?" I asked her. To this day I do not know how the name of the annual conference was chosen. It took me a long time to arrive at this gathering of recovering saints. Not because the flights were long or the taxi drivers were slow to arrive or the trains were delayed. It took me a long time to get to The Gathering because it took me a long time to finally choose sobriety.

Choosing to live a sober life was certainly the very best choice I have made. My family said they had missed the real me much. I was turning to alcohol, running away, making unhealthy choices, and finally hurting so very much that it was my only choice left. I was finally able through the path of recovery to know that I had been forgiven and that I could choose to forgive. I found a loving God full of mercy and grace who heals, redeems, reconciles and restores. And I was given peace.

After a few years of my new life, I discovered that many people gather together (there it is, the name!) in the path of recovery in many different organized events, from different countries, speaking different languages, worshipping in many different ways. And when The Gathering, an annual conference hosted by Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church, was introduced to me as a place I could go, as a conference I could attend, as a retreat I could give to myself, I registered, booked my flights and hotel room, and waited.

I waited because I was not really sure what was ahead. I waited because I did not have any idea who would be there. Would they be people that I could relate to? I wondered. Will I meet anyone that I will enjoy knowing? Will they understand my journey in recovery?

My journey in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions had required that I thoughtfully and prayerfully rebuild my broken relationship with a loving God and with the church. Gratefully, I found that almost everyone attending shared a very similar journey.

My journey in recovery also included discovering service work. Service work shows up in all places and in so many needed ways. I was surprised when I realized that I could be of service to others in recovery through this important fellowship of Recovery Ministries. So, as I walked through the conference, attended the lectures and experiential events, worshipped with fellow recovering folks surrounding me, I was touched deeply. I was surprised by the depth of the meaning of this Gathering of souls who have walked paths quite similar to mine. I laughed and cried. I attended meetings that touched me very deeply. I heard lectures that I recall years later in my heart and mind. I savored the marvelous worship. I made very dear friends. And, after a few years, I was invited to serve on the board of Recovery Ministries. I have found great depth in my fellow board members. I have repeatedly prayed to God to direct me and use me in this unique and precious service to other alcoholics, addicts, and members of recovery in the church.

Oh, all of this is not necessarily guaranteed by the organizing committee for each attendee. But indeed, surely goodness and mercy shall pursue us as we Gather together in Seattle in October. May God's grace and mercy pour over each person preparing for The Gathering booking flights, hotel, and transportation, and waiting. May God bring to each of us the gifts that only God knows what each person truly needs.

Anonymous (thank you)
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