Showing Up for Sober Shabbat

We’re partnering with HAMSA in Atlanta to promote Sober Shabbat dinners. Check out this link for more information on the work HAMSA does and to get your own Sober Shabbat guide.

One of the gifts of recovery is that I am afforded the ability to show up. Today, I can show up physically, mentally, emotionally, as well as spiritually.

During my active addiction I did not have the capacity, even though I did have the desire from time to time, to show up in any of these ways. I can remember one dark day receiving a call from my mother and my aunt asking if I was planning on coming tonight.

“Coming to what,” I asked, increasingly annoyed at the prospect of being on the phone with my mother and aunt while really high. “Marc, it’s Rosh Hashanah, the High Holidays, aren’t you coming?” I quickly got off the phone making some excuse as to why I, once again, would not be showing up. I didn’t even know what day it was. This was a significant moment for me as the holidays had always been an important part of my life. I drowned the feelings of guilt with more drugs.

Today, I show up. I am a person in long-term recovery and for me that means since August 20, 2004, I have not had a drink or a drug and I show up. Sober Shabbat is such an important event for me as it allows me to make showing up sacred. By showing up in community, sober, and celebrating the gift of Shabbat we make this time and space sacred. We set aside differences and celebrate the similarities we find in connection. It has been said the opposite of addiction is connection, and sober Shabbat allows sacred space for this to happen.

In recovery, lighting the Shabbat candles takes on new meaning for me. We traditionally light them for kavod Shabbat and oneg Shabbat: to honor and to enjoy Shabbat. The candles are lit to bring a sanctity to the meal and to the rituals that surround it. The great commentator Rashi wrote: “Without light there can be no peace because [people] will constantly stumble.” In my active addiction I constantly stumbled and indeed there was no peace. I was lost in the darkness and could not find my way home. Today in my active recovery, while I still stumble from time to time, I know peace. I know home. I know the meaning and the gift of light.

Today I celebrate living in the light. My prayer for us all is that we may know peace even if we stumble, and that we may find the light even amid the darkness.

Shabbat Shalom,
Marc Pimsler

About Marc

Marc Pimsler is an addiction counselor, a OneTable host, and a volunteer with HAMSA, and is in recovery himself.

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