By: John McAndrew
One definition of a priest is “someone who is a mediator between you and God.” Or another example I have heard is, “takes your hand and puts it into the hand of God. “ I remember being around priests and nuns a lot as a child, and as I look back my experiences were good and enriching.
They cared about me in a way that was contrary to what was going on in the rest of my world. They listened, and wanted to know how I felt, and what could be done to help. Well, that surely isn’t anything new or revolutionary but it was to me at the time. I remember thinking then that I want to be a priest because being around that “felt good.”
As I sit here today at Cumberland Heights getting ready to do a group, I am taken back to those days and those people who taught me how to love others. What if I had never had that chance to experience unconditional love or to see it in action in the way I did?
In my own Recovery, I have been touched and surrounded by countless individuals, therapists, counselors and hundreds of others who I will never see again who demonstrated this gift of caring. Many of those whose names I’ll never know expected nothing in return. Never once did any of them take credit for this gift or tell me, “I did it all by myself!” So I’ve been watching all my life the interaction between loving souls, others and the presence of God.
I can only define it as what I have seen — the single words of encouragement, the one gesture of understanding, the sharing of knowledge and experience, listening, planting seeds of hope, simple suggestions to look at difficulty differently and aiding in the work that changes souls and promotes healing and Recovery.
Stan Bumgarner, the Pastoral Care Director at Cumberland Heights, who I work with, told me that what he does is, “Tend to the spiritual care and needs of the patients.” Stan is one of those people I watch on a daily basis care for “others.” For many of the patients he works with, he will be that first beam of light or angel to follow on their Recovery Journey.
So whether you are called priest, counselor, therapist, sponsor, friend or an angel, we are in this work of mending souls. I like to call it, “Soul Business”, and to the thousands of you who work in this field, thank you for tending to people’s souls.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.