On Friday, Guiding Light volunteer Esther Yff-Prins entered our building for the first time in nearly a year to hold centering prayer with clients enrolled in the Recovery program. Esther has been working with the men living at Guiding Light for nearly a decade as a spiritual director. “It feels freeing to be back here,” she said. “I feel as if I have been liberated.” In addition to working with men in one-on-one spiritual direction sessions, Esther also holds centering prayer once a week. Centering prayer is a group exercise in which all of the men get together in the chapel area of the building and sit for a period of 20 minutes in silent contemplation.
Many of the men at Guiding Light know Esther, but only through a computer screen, as she has been coordinating centering prayer and spiritual direction sessions over video-conferencing platforms. For nearly all the men in attendance on Friday, this is the first time they have met Esther in person, as she went around the room formally introducing herself to everyone before taking her seat. She begins every session of centering prayer with words of encouragement, insight, and prayer. “I’m feeling so emotional this morning,” she said to the group. “It’s wonderful to meet you in person and to see you all ready to engage in an activity that might be a little foreign to some of you…but I hope will become healing to all of you. We’re going to spend some time in quiet this morning, which might seem like a strange thing to do together; after all, isn’t quiet something we do when we’re alone or solitary? Most of the time. But for this ancient spiritual discipline…the quiet is essential. Not just the quite here, in this room, but for the quite that can descend…” as she motioned towards her heart, “into here.”
This time, to be with yourself and with your conception of God as you understand it, can have surprisingly powerful and positive effects for men who, more often than not, are completely unaccustomed to such practices. Esther described a conversation she had with a man in which he told her about the “overwhelming feeling of wellness” this weekly “quiet time,” as he put it, was giving him. “Do it every day,” she responded, “it doesn’t have to be for 20 minutes, you can just do it for ten or five, but an intentional quiet…just being with the mystery…do it every day.”
The integration of centering prayer into men’s routines is emblematic of how the Guiding Light Recovery program approaches sobriety differently. We believe that coming to terms with and taking real action to deal with one’s problems in addiction requires one to look inwards and be willing to heal all aspects of themself; mind, body and spirit. Men enrolled in the Guiding Light Recovery program attend an average of 144 spiritual direction sessions with Esther or one of our other volunteer spiritual directors. For so many clients, it is the first time they have ever participated in anything remotely resembling this. It is often the first time they have ever been introduced to the concept that addiction, perhaps, is just as much a spiritual malady as much as it is a physical or mental one. We would like to thank our generous donors and volunteers for making it possible for men to experience this. For so many, it is the first time in their life they have had a chance to form a relationship with God, and we are so grateful to be able to facilitate it. From all of us, clients and staff alike, thank you so much for all that you do for us at Guiding Light.
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17