Silent Impact


While the world mourns the loss of a tremendous actor this week, I’m acutely aware that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death may have a profound effect on particular communities: those in recovery (alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, etc.)  When a public individual seemingly loses a battle with addiction, it can call into question the strength of any individual who is on a similar path.  “If he can’t make it, how can I?”

After having recently presided at the funeral of a young woman, who died from a very unexpected regression in her recovery from addiction, I have become vividly aware about how an event like this can become extremely personal.  The 400 people in attendance of the service were made up in large part of fellow friends in recovery – all mourning a death, but praying for their own continued sobriety.  The scripture we used that day was Matthew 5:1-12, in which Jesus declares among his litany of “blessed are..” is “blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted.”  We held tight to those words and claimed God’s presence in meek, mourning moments.

It has also been a part of my own personal journey, where I have seen how loved ones, who belong to recovery communities and participate in 12 step programs, watch someone they love and respect fall in such a way can be a reminder of how fragile recovery is. In this moment, the ever common expression, “one day at a time “, becomes more real than ever.

It is in this light that I think of my countless friends, colleagues and family members who belong to recovering communities. I remember Hoffman’s bold interviews about his own recovery process and how people applauded him for being so public with his journey. Today I pray for individuals who live in recovery, who may  be impacted at a very personal level by this public loss.

Recently I have been strongly considering using the book, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, by Richard Rohr, as a Lenten study at my church. The book explores how the 12 steps used by recovery communities can apply to all people, as we seek recovery from our own brokenness in the hands of a grace-giving God.

In any case, this is a good moment to meditate on the Serenity Prayer and give thanks for countless people who move forward one day at a time, with a bright future ahead.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Categories: Faith

Author:Chris Heckert

Senior Pastor of Haddonfield United Methodist Church Musician, communicator, husband/father, seeker of a better way through reconciliation by the healing power of God's love


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7 Comments on “Silent Impact”

  1. Vickie Wain
    February 3, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    Amen! Very well said!

  2. Todd
    February 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Cunning, baffling and powerful

  3. Joan
    February 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Thank you for putting his death in perspective for all of us. Being a recovering alcoholic and a mother of a recovering heroin addict and a semi recovering prescription drug addict I pray daily for all who suffer from addictions of all kinds. The serenity prayer and God’s grace gets me through.

  4. David Janz
    February 6, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Well said, Chris – thanks!

  5. February 9, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    I think the very simple saying “But for the grace of God there go I.” sums up my feelings about this situation. I have gone through a treatment program, and I have seen people die, and commit suicide. One thing that I have to remember is that my sobriety is contingent upon a daily reprieve from God. I have to surrender to God on a daily basis. This not only ensures my sobriety, but it also allows me to open up my heart to His will so that He can lead my life. I have found true happiness in this, and I can never forget that it’s Gods’ grace.

  6. Andrew Peck-McClain
    February 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Nicely written and very important message for all to hear. Thank you for your words of hope and encouragement. I’ll be sharing this with the Tuesday morning Bible study at my church.

  7. Sandy Horosky
    February 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    So well written Chris. I remember so vividly the struggles of my kids at school. Not only is high school challenging enough ,but maintaining their sobriety daily was enormous. And then there were those we lost, leaving such an empty feeling for those of us who tried to help. Thanks for maybe helping someone unerstand their daily sruggle.
    Love ya, A.Sandy

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