“Ornaments of Recovery,” by Fr. Jim Swarthout

As I was hanging up the ornaments on the Christmas tree a few weeks back, I began thinking about the messages or ‘ornaments’ of recovery. I’d like to share them with you as a gentle reminder of joy and peace this holiday season!

  1. Experience – As the heart muscle gives life to the whole body, so the experiencing heart centers on life: it is the place of recovery where being and becoming invites us.
  2. Wonder – Awe is the original spiritual act. Our first prayer is not actually “Gimme” but Wow”!
  3. Community – “You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone.” Fellowship is a setting where helping and service flow from a new way of seeing.
  4. Dark – A person died and stood before God. God asked, “Where are your wounds?” The person answered what wounds? I have none.” God said, “Was there nothing worth fighting for?”
  5. Listening – To listen, to surrender, to trust, to be chosen, to love: these are to open us up to the experience of discovery.
  6. Forgiveness – Forgiveness does not require forgetting, nor can one forgive that which has been forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift given with full memory of what has happened to the self and others.
  7. Humor – Humor delivers something that one does not expect – it’s the comic surprise.
  8. Gray – Do pain and suffering separate and isolate? Or do they connect and bond? “Both!” But only if each is embraced and owned.
  9. Memory – God gave us memories – that we might have roses in December. To remember is to create links between the past and present, between past and future.
  10. Virtue – Humility allows us to be open-minded, honest, and willing in our efforts to recover. When humble we are willing to seek and receive help, support, guidance and direction with our lives. We are not alone anymore.
  11. Sin – Power, Prestige and Possessions hold us hostage to recovery.
  12. Prayer – 4 prayers: “Wow,” “Oops!” “Thanks” and “Gimme”
  13. Recovery – Recovery and Gratitude and Giving and Receiving…. All are – or can be – spiritual. Each is an invitation to practice looking outside of or beyond ourself.

Happy Holidays to you. Be Joyful Joyful Joyful!

Fr. Jim Swarthout is the Director of Clergy & Alumni Services at Rosecrance.