Weeks of social distancing and sheltering in place have had a significant impact on all of us. The human being is social in nature; we are communal and rely on one another for support. Being cut off from our friends and family is challenging, but necessary for contending with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen confirmed cases of coronavirus grow exponentially. Nearly 700,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and almost 37,000 have died from complications related to the virus.
While there is rambling on the television that “stay at home” orders may be lifted soon, experts warn that such a move is premature. A severe lack of testing means that we don’t fully know how many Americans have the virus. With that in mind, there is a high likelihood that sheltering in place protocols will continue indefinitely.
People working programs of addiction recovery are doing their best to maintain their sobriety despite the stress, anxiety, depression, isolation, and unemployment. Members of the community are able to connect online via video conferencing platforms, which is helpful.
Still, there are significant chunks of one’s day that need to be filled in order to keep from entertaining thoughts of drugs and alcohol. Praying throughout the day is one way to keep your spirituality alive and well. Reading and writing are beneficial too.
Indeed, millions are binge-watching television shows and streaming movies, but there comes a time when that ideal behavior is exhausting. Do your best to find a balance in your daily activities and do things that stimulate your mind and spirit.
National Poetry Month
Aside from reading books and magazines, you may want to consider poetry. For those working programs of faith-based addiction recovery, you will be pleased to know that there is a lot of poetry that incorporates elements of Christianity. Since April is National Poetry Month, we thought you would find it interesting to learn about a truly gifted Victorian Era poet.
Many poets were devoutly religious, and some were also plagued by addiction during their lifetime. One such poet was Francis Thompson (December 16, 1859–November 13, 1907). He was an English poet who had both a short and remarkable life; he left behind some of the most beautiful poetic verses when he died from tuberculosis at the age of 46.
Thompson was expected to become a priest despite the fact that he wished to be a writer. When priesthood was no longer an option, he tried his hand at medicine, but that was not his calling either. After leaving school, he moved back to his parents’ home in Northern England.
One morning his sister woke up to find a note, which indicated Francis had run off to London. Once there, he fell on hard times; Thompson would eventually become homeless and addicted to the opioid tincture laudanum. He was down and out to be sure but was still writing. One day he dropped off a manuscript and some poems to a publisher, and the man instantly knew that there was something special in Thompson.
The publisher convinced Francis to seek medical help for his laudanum addiction and then stay at a monastery in the country to recover and prevent the risk of relapse. While under the care of monks, and no longer in the yoke of opium addiction, Thompson healed and reconnected with God. He began to write with a new sense of purpose. At the monastery, he wrote one of the most beautiful poems about redemption and finding the embrace of God, titled “The Hound of Heaven.”
Please watch a fascinating video about Francis Thompson’s life:
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat – and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet -‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.
I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden – to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossom heap me over
From this tremendous Lover –
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or, whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:-
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat –
‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’
I sought not more after that which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature’s – share
With me (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring’.
So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one –
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumed of the wild sea-snortings;
All that’s born or dies
Rose and dropped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful divine;
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine:
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak –
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts of her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noised Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet –
‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.’
Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou has hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years –
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have cracked and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amarinthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must –
Designer infinite! –
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippins stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
Be dunged with rotten death?
Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited –
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’
Faith-Based Addiction Treatment
Celebrate Hope at Hope By The Sea is a faith-based addiction treatment program that incorporates the 12 Steps and the teaching of Jesus Christ. If you’re struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, then please know that a life in recovery awaits you. Please contact us today to learn how we can help you break the disease cycle of addiction and reconnect with God.