1. a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.
Seeing your drug dealer across the street; touching the bag of heroin he surreptitiously places in your palm; hearing the flick of the lighter as your finger rolls across the striker wheel; the bittersweet smell of tan powder cooking over a cheap metal spoon. The act of drug use is ritualistic is nature. The user participates in a specific series of actions, these actions often being the hardest habits to break. But the mothers of Sojourner House welcomed a new ritual into their lives, and left the old ones at the Sojourner House entrance.
Last week, residents gathered to observe rituals symbolizing their journey on the road to recovery. Led by counselor and assistant clinical supervisor, Karen Garland, and joined by a program graduate, mothers shared prayers, words of inspiration and motivation, and congratulations on reaching milestones in their recovery.
Before the ceremony began, parent educator Latina Jenkins stressed: "You can change the whole dynamic of your life and your children's lives, but you have to start now." Rituals included planting seeds to grow "recovery plants," symbolizing the women's growth as they progress through the program. One by one, residents lined up to receive their plant from counselor Cheryl Coney, who told each mother "All I can give you is a seed." Ms. Garland explained that women who thrive in their recovery often find their plants grow prolifically. When mothers are working through issues and face stumbling blocks, their plants often falter. She provided gardening advice that can easily be applied to recovery: "The most important thing you can do with your plant is to be patient. Don't be too prideful to ask for help."
Residents listened to an impending graduate's reading of "The Bumblebee," reiterating the importance of faith in overcoming addiction:
According to laws
The bumble bee cannot fly;
Its body is too
Heavy for its wings
And that's the simple
But the bumble bee
Doesn't know this fact,
And so it flies anyway
For all to see.
Remember this when you're
Losing faith or hope
God's proof that the impossible
The morning culminated when the women stepped outside and were greeted by the brilliant July sun. A returning graduate participated in an act women dream of upon entering the program. With her young daughter in her arms and the Sojourner House team and residents looking on, she dipped her hand in paint. Like numerous mothers before her, she placed her hand on the Sojourner House fence, adding to a rainbow of hand prints commemorating women's successful program completion.
Adding to this colorful scene, Ms. Jenkins appeared with an array of balloons. Each mother wrote an obstacle on their recovery journey on a balloon. Together, the women reached toward the sky and released their balloons, collectively shedding their burdens and symbolically letting go. On a wall in Sojourner House, a plaque reads: "Let go, let God." Each mother's participation in last week's rituals embodies this mantra as they strive to build better lives for themselves and their children.