The gospel reading last Sunday was from Luke 2: the Presentation of Our Lord. Joseph and Mary present Jesus in the temple and there are two devout Wise Ones who bear witness to the event. They have each waited a long time, in their own ways, for this day. It has a profound, life changing impact on them.
How many of us in our recovery have felt like Anna and Simeon waiting to see the Promised One? Anna, the aging widow prophetess, is in the temple the day Jesus is presented and declares this is the Child that will bring redemption. Simeon believed he would see the Lord’s Messiah before he died and, when he does, breaks into his own Magnificat. He affirms God’s dismissal of him in peace and declares his eyes have seen salvation.
It feels like Anna and Simeon have been in recovery and have finally tasted sobriety.
After the fourth time in detox. After three years of sobriety. After the second DUI. After 84 years of age, never leaving the temple and fasting and praying night and day. After waiting and waiting for the consolation of Israel, the Baby is placed in Simeon’s arms and he sees the light for revelation to the Gentiles! And sometimes the tremors stop and the drug dreams stop and we get a 30 day coin and then a 90 day coin and we, too, find glory!
It would be easy to dismiss the hard work Anna and Simeon had to endure to see the redemption for Jerusalem. It would be easy to focus on the happy day in the temple when all is well and everyone goes home happy. But Anna is a widow and has endured loss and grief and it would be probable to assume Simeon is near death. And recovery isn’t about the end, is it?
It’s about the process. Along the way things get messed up and a sword pierces your own soul. There are jobs lost and relationships destroyed and hospitalizations. And there are fallings and risings of many. There are fallings and risings of way too many.
And there are late night phone calls to our sponsor and endless group sessions. We start keeping a gratitude journal and admitting our helplessness. We learn to breathe and trust a therapist. We make the 7am meeting. And another. And another.
And, over time, the child within us grows and becomes strong. Sometimes we get moments of wisdom and the favor of God. Until one day…our eyes begin to see our own salvation.
Deborah M. MA, LPC