It’s National Recovery Month, so I’m spinning a few pieces on the subject and reimagining the language. What is recovery? How do we find it?
Consider the word–recovery. We use it as a badge of honor, sometimes a scarlet letter of shame. “I’ve been in recovery for almost twelve years without a drop,” or “did you hear how Mary had to check herself into a long term recovery program?” It’s a shorthand of sorts, a way of classifying the more broken folks from the less broken folks.
What is recovery really, though? Is it nomenclature confined to the world of addiction? Doesn’t it imagine returning to a state of being or regaining something once lost? If so, couldn’t we all stand this sort of returning, this kind of regaining?
She makes her way to the merry-go-round, grabs the bars sticking from the ears of the tiny black horse as the older children push her faster and faster. Her face is pure freedom, joy. Ponytail swinging wide, centripetal force slanting her sideways in the saddle, she dangles leftward, as if supported by a cosmic wire. There are no worries about gravity, which, as any adult knows, can sometimes be a real pain in the neck.
Round and round and round she goes, and where the laughter comes from every adult knows.
There are monkey bars and those same bigger kids who pushed the merry-go-round traverse the rungs. They swing from bar to bar, reach the end, examine their hands for callouses or new blisters. Laughing, they make it to the end of the line where they wait another turn. Titus pauses at the top of the ladder. “Help!” he shouts, and is lifted, held, and guided by adult arms. Rung by rung he smiles. At the end, he is dropped to a ladder, which he descends before running to my knees. He looks up, says, “I did it, Daddy.” I don’t correct him.
In the evenings there is only the community of children creating a sludge-slick sheen of sweat and dirt, which they swap back and forth as they play Chinese freeze tag. I tell them the name of this game is not politically correct, but they shrug and go on, continuing to generate the smell worn by livestock. They chase and shout “your it!”
They want to fly and pose for photos. They want to believe the universe is raucous and good, even in the dark of evening. They are light on worries and gravity.
The world is a sacrament, an outward manifestation of the goodness of God in the land of the living. It’s the children who see this best and with the clearest eyes. Before first-kisses, first drinks, and first layoffs, even the most ornery of the lot is more innocent than the most innocent adult. This is the beauty of children.
I read, once, that a good lawyer came to a good teacher and asked how a man could find the kingdom of God. The good teacher looked at the good lawyer, said, “unless a man is born again he cannot find the Kingdom.” The good lawyer asked, “how is it possible to become a child again?” The teacher responded, “only believe.”
“What is recovery?” you ask. I’m not sure that I have it all quite deciphered yet. But consider the children. Now, you tell me.
***TINY LETTER AND COMING CLEAN***
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