August 20, 2015

There but for the Grace of God Go I.

hospital bed

A friend of mine lies motionless in a self-induced, alcoholic stupor.

Caught between the worlds of here and there, she has lost her way and can’t find her way home. I enter a trance in order to reach her higher self. At first she said she was too tired to battle life any longer. Using an ancient Shamanic technique, I am able to set her free for a brief test flight. I watch her spirit dance with joy until she notices her tearful friends and family surrounding her bed. In that moment she realizes she has gone too far. Connected to life-support equipment, she lies there motionless with her fate now in the hands of others.

It has been a day full of tears as I reflect on our friendship. In my grief, I reach out to past employees who worked at my restaurant and also knew her. There is nothing worse than grieving alone. Death reminds us of the sanctity of life.

Addiction is one of the great spiritual plagues of our time.

While many debate whether addiction is a disease, a disorder or a habit, a chasm of sadness and discontent runs through the spiritual fabric of our society. It has been estimated that there are 26 million addicts in the USA. Last week I even watched a prime-time TV commercial advocating a product that provides relief from constipation caused by opioids.

It is time to find appropriate spiritual solutions. It is time to remove God from the back seat of the car and put spirit back in the driver’s seat.

There is a triangle in the center of the Alcoholics Anonymous logo. This triangle is comprised of three complimentary sides that represent the relationship between mind, body and spirit. In order to live a healthy, productive life, all three must be in balance.

The human body is resilient, and with a change of attitude and lifestyle, it can be restored to a vibrant health. The mind, which fills the bottom ledge of the triangle, is tricky. Many of our actions become habitual, with little consideration given to the consequences of repeated unhealthy behavior. In order to prevent our subconscious from running amuck, we need to understand the third side of the triangle. A daily spiritual discipline is essential if we wish to keep the mind finely tuned. For some it might be 12-step AA meetings, daily yoga or chanting. Each involves prayer and meditation.

I was one of the lucky ones. One day after the opening of my restaurant, my father nearly died from a massive stroke.

This tragedy jolted me out of my daze and eventually led to my salvation. Call it grace or luck, but within a year, I had quit drinking; I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps and die at the age of 50. My friend was not so lucky; wine seduced her into darkness, isolation and despair. Now, nearly 30 years later, the cook of my former restaurant lies helpless in a coma, and I have decided to dedicate my life to helping others heal.

I have known many addicts during my sojourn on this planet. I have a deep compassion for their plights and am at peace with their misfortune. To this day I do not know why I was chosen. How well I remember the day when I rode in a New York City cab with three girls who refused to share their heroin with me. Upon reflection I realize that this event was a blessing, a miracle that saved my life.

My life could have followed a path similar to my grandfather, father, sister and nephew, who have struggled with addiction their entire lives. I was fortunate to reach out and grasp the helping hand of spirit. I am one of the lucky few. In the addiction treatment facility where I am presently employed, I witness our children dying weekly. Facebook bares it all, if you dare to look. Every single day I am reminded that I am no better than the addict who still suffers, and “there but for the grace of God go I.”


Author: Renee Baribeau

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Image: Flickr


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