This festive season I have so enjoyed reading about the celebrations and meals and family reunions of the recovery blogging community. I felt like an honoured guest in the homes of my online friends, admiring the decorations and looking at the dogs and cats and hearing stories about family members and how the day was spent. Over and over again recovery bloggers bear witness to the same amazing truth: there is life after alcoholism. A few years ago, that would have seemed utterly impossible to me. I needed to drink in order to keep going, or so I thought.
Saddened to wake up this morning and read that the South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Dennis Brutus is dead at 85. I heard him speak at the University of the Western Cape, a strong-voiced old man with a flowing white beard and passionate opinions about freedom and justice, a rabble-rouser to the end. He will be deeply mourned.
There will come a time
There will come a time we believe
When the shape of the planet
and the divisions of the land
Will be less important;
We will be caught in a glow of friendship
a red star of hope
will illuminate our lives
A star of hope
A star of joy
A star of freedom
Here in the village it is a quiet and peaceful Sunday. Friends are coming for lunch, a very simple meal but not left-overs. Either grilled lamb and salads, or lasagna. I have been sitting out in the garden reading and reflecting on the Franciscan writer Richard Rohr while my lively dogs chase lizards across the sandy places under the olive trees.
The word “prayer” has often been trivialized by making it into a way of getting what you want. But… I use “prayer” as the umbrella word for any interior journeys or practices that allow you to experience faith, hope and love within yourself. It is not a technique for getting things, a pious exercise that somehow makes God happy, or a requirement for entry into heaven. It is much more like practicing heaven now.
Two weeks ago, a woman alcoholic who is on a mailing list I follow and who had written to me many times, was sentenced to a number of years in prison for yet another drunken driving offence. It was a very severe sentence for an alcoholic woman in her early 60s and I was shaken. Confinement and the shadow of constant surveillance affects personality in a harsh and negative way. Since I sobered up and have come to hear the lifestories of many others like me, I realise how many alcoholics run out of time before we are ready to stop, how the habit of excessive drinking can suddenly spiral into tragedy and crime. Please keep my friend in your thoughts and prayers.