Posts Tagged ‘Addiction’

Kensington in the Snow

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Fr. Gregory Boyle offered a wonderful short story.

In his cramped LA office, rushing to prepare for a noon baptism, a heroin addict stumbled in asking to meet.  As  Mother Theresa would say, ‘God in God’s most distressing disguises.’

Initially annoyed, initially rushing towards the logical “I don’t have time for this”, Fr. Boyle settled, opened his heart to hear her, and offered this line about that experience.

“I had almost forgotten.  People are not interruptions.”

It is easy to forget people.

We live in world readily consumed with algorithms, busyness masquerading as effectiveness, thinness as connection.  Ministry is no different.  The pressing demands of running a church easily trump the more important work of being the church.  In other words, it is easy to forget and far easier to forget those broken. Easier to forget those who are already largely forgotten.

That is why Mary is one of my heroes.  She reminds me every few weeks, “What date works to got to Kensington?”, a place where we pass out lunches and visit with the homeless and addicted.

Even in winter.  Even in snow.

People are not interruptions.



What Am I learning in Kensington?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Quite a journey over the past few years, undertaken with those far kinder and far gentler than I.  What have I learned in Kensington, the neighborhood where most of service has gone this past year?

There are worlds I know nothing of

I grew up rural.  I came of age, professionally suburban. White, upper middle class. Secure. Comfortable.  Issues, tensions around “enough” even though I had/ have plenty.  Far removed from worlds where hunger is real.  Where violence is epidemic.  Where hopelessness seems to hold sway.  And the separation?  A dozen miles or so.

Beneath appearances are people

Walk up to someone, anyone with a smile, some help, and they respond.  Tatoos and all.  They respond.  Consistent gratitude as if we can give them anything but just a nudge that others care.

Addiction is chronic, under-reported, and stigmatized

Less then 80 people a year are attacked by sharks.  In 10 weeks that many die of overdoses to say nothing of those lost to violence and suicide connected to addiction.  Which gets more press, more concern? Google “shark attack north carolina” then google “overdose in kensington.”

God is there

And God is there.  ”The Simple Way” makes sense.  ”St. Francis Inn” makes sense.  ”Angels-In-Motion” makes sense. Walking the Avenue makes sense. God is there.

A Thought on Addiction

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Addiction ravages lives and, paradoxically, creates after years of painful work around sobriety some of the most spiritual beings one can know.

Even having known countless folks who made it through the darkness to the other side, such knowledge does little however to mitigate the tragedy active addiction visits on individuals and their families.

Clear boundaries may well be one of the hardest lessons for the loved ones of addicts to come to terms with.

The serenity prayer encapsulates much of that paradox around a boundaried sense of holding on and a letting go.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

For me, I had to get clear that we never have to accept unacceptable behavior.  And I likewise had to get clear that I could not control others.  That meant learning to take stands from love and not from an ego-based sense of demand.

We all are called to live a life beyond a living death.  Some types of suffering are redemptive.  Other forms of suffering are not.  At times, what we can change … “the things I can change” … are finding ways to construct a healthy separation from an unhealthy situation.