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