The concept of wellness includes the well-being of body and mind, but equally important is the well-being of spirit. At Guest House this spiritual wellness is a critical piece of the treatment offered that promotes the best opportunity for quality recovery and overall health and wellness.
Similar to physical and mental wellness, spiritual wellness fosters proper care of and attention to personal spirituality, resulting in optimal health and functioning. Fr. George Hazler, IVD, Guest House Chaplain, summarizes from his experience: “Spirituality is a way of life – a dynamic clustering of assumptions, attitudes, inclinations, patterns and behaviors that characterize our relationships with God and each other.” Nourishing the body and mind is more effective when the spirit is also nourished. Surviving life’s ups and downs requires more than healthy foods and therapy. It is important to learn how to assess one’s personal spirit and also how to nurture it, especially if one wishes to offer spiritual support to others. Reflection is necessary, and it requires time.
When clients arrive at Guest House, part of their 1½ to 2-week body, mind and spirit assessment process includes meeting with Fr. George. “Everyone completes a spiritual survey that really requires self-reflection – a lot of soul searching,” explains Fr. George. The survey is intended to be helpful to the client, and Fr. George assists by raising questions that encourage the client to dig deeper. The Guest House campus offers 105 acres of tranquil surroundings, that encourages thoughtful, self-paced reflection.
Following the initial meeting and throughout their stay, clients are encouraged to schedule time with Fr. George as often as they wish – to work on something in particular or just to talk through things. Some clients are initially more receptive to seek Fr. George’s guidance, and others take a bit more time. Fr. George keeps an open mind and tries to meet the clients where they are on their spiritual journey.
Fr. George explains his role as one of offering accompaniment to the clients on their journey. He is their brother. Of course, he is available to provide sacraments and weekly spirituality groups, and he offers daily Mass for the women four days each week, with a priest alum filling in on other days. (The men have a rotation for their daily Mass celebrations.) It is, however, the one-on-one meetings with clients that are the most effective piece of Fr. George’s ministry. He shares, “I am here not to tell them what they need but to assist them as they express their spiritual desires.”
The regularly scheduled spirituality groups meet once a week for the women and once a week for the men. There “appearance” is ever evolving because the clients’ spirituality is ever evolving. The group meeting is based on the dynamics of the group and what they feel is important. Many times, Fr. George prepares a reflection that is provided in advance of the group meeting, allowing time for prayer and personal reflection. Questions are brought to the group, and discussion follows. Other times, the practice of Lectio Divina is used. A recent group requested a Holy Hour once per month, and Fr. George offers it with a theme, reflection and periodic questions to promote meditation throughout the hour. It is a blessing that Guest House has a chaplain who is so willing to accommodate the various spiritual needs of the clients, and it is another blessing when the clients are able to identify and communicate on their own what they need to grow spiritually.
The clients often offer these words as they leave Guest House to return to their ministerial roles: “I am a better priest now than when I arrived at Guest House,” or “My connection with God is stronger now than it ever was.” Perhaps most importantly, the twelve-step recovery program and the spiritual attention lead most alumni to feel it is their experience as a “wounded healer” that makes them the most compassionate and spiritual ministers they could have imagined. Some words by Richard Rohr, OFM, offer a good final thought: “Religion is lived by people who are afraid of hell; spirituality is lived by people who have been through hell and come out enlightened.”
Written by Guest House Staff Writer