Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary
Once a month, members of our community gather for what we call our Recovery Cafés. These are not formal or structured meetings, but a time for sharing stories and supporting each other. For an hour, it is a space where people are free to be vulnerable, without judgment, and where much hard-earned healing wisdom is given.
The Recovery Cafés were envisioned by and guided by resident leaders. These are spaces where our residents, staff, and volunteers can share their gifts and other members of the community can become engaged in our mission in a deeper way. They also represent our ever-growing understanding of the meaning of and urgent need for recovery.
Recovery has been fundamental to our mission and work since our beginning. In the immediate sense, this meant developing services and programs that could empower our residents to take that next step, which is necessary for them to get off the streets, move toward stability and thrive. We have learned much along the way – including through mistakes and missteps (see our archived article “A Community of Recovery”) Those members of our community who have struggled with addiction and traveled the road of recovery have been our guides and teachers, constantly moving us forward in understanding and practice. (To learn more about our current efforts for those who are struggling with opioids and homelessness, see “Saving Lives Starts with Welcoming MAT”)
The most important lesson has been that ultimately, recovery is a journey we must all make in community to come to our wholeness as persons. In our mission statement, we state: “We strive to create a safe and respectful environment where we support each other in our struggles for self-esteem, recovery, and the confidence to move toward self-actualization.”
Core to our work is fostering a culture of recovery, where we can acknowledge our struggles and at the same time assert that we are all valued. By sharing our stories, we empower and equip each other with the hope, the wisdom, and the practical tools we need as we deal with our various and false values that keep us from becoming our truest selves.
We also believe that the healing we experience in our community through our shared journey of recovery can contribute to the healing of our many social wounds. We need the policies and resources that can help us respond to the many faces of addiction in our country, including the current devastating opioid crisis. But we also need to build that culture of recovery, for all persons, so that America can live up to its truest character and most deeply rooted historical values of the dignity of each person.