Our spiritual journey typically entails a search for connection to something greater than ourselves such as nature, a higher power, or God. The core experience of the spiritual life, that of not feeling alone, generates inner peace, meaning and purpose to life.
At STIR, we believe spirituality has an important role to play in breaking the cycle of homelessness and substance use addiction. In addition to securing basic needs like housing, employment, and access to mental health services, recovery involves rebuilding one’s inner sense of identity, purpose and hope. It requires moving from a place of shame to a conviction that I am loved, that I matter.
At STIR, the spiritually of recovery is rooted in the Ignatian tradition where the starting point is always the individual’s lived experience. The primary mission of an STIR retreat is that retreatants feel loved by the God of their understanding and accepted for who they are.
“[The retreat] allowed me to feel at peace for the first time in a long time… I will carry this with me as I continue my recovery and allow myself to ask God for direction when I feel lost. I will put my trust in my inner spirit.”
STIR describes its retreats as “spiritual but not religious,” thus opening them to individuals from any or no faith tradition and also including those who may be suspicious of organised religion. Moreover, drawing on the Twelve Step meeting format, both facilitators and retreatants participate equally in sharing from their life experiences. Mutual and non-judgmental sharing generates trust and an experience of authentic community with others on the journey of recovery.
With a renewed sense of self-worth, and as members of a supportive spiritual community, STIR participants are empowered to strive to reach goals and access services that lead to more stable housing, continued sobriety, better job and educational opportunities, and reconnection with their families.
A STIR-Toronto Retreatant’s Reflection: “Finding Hope”
Reaching out for help when life is showing you its dark side can take every ounce of courage one can muster. It is much less daunting if help is being gently offered instead. This is how I felt while living at Ingles Sober Living House when they offered the STIR Retreat to me. During the height of my alcoholism, I was angry and felt that God had abandoned me. Looking back on some of the situations I put myself in and lived through, as well as some of the extraordinary people and programs that I experienced helped prove to me that I was very wrong- God had always been with me. However, I still felt uncomfortable sharing my reconnection to my spirituality when I became sober. I was not sure what to expect on the two-day STIR Retreat but it felt like it was meant for me and my journey.
The moment I met the STIR retreat team, I felt calm, cared for and accepted. Throughout the weekend we laughed together, cried and shared a connection that was wholesome and genuine. The home cooked meals and activities were successful in making me feel at home while reigniting my connection to my higher power. It did not matter so much if one believed in a God, a creator, a universal energy etc. more so that one simply believes there may be something greater than oneself. Everyone was very accepting of a multitude of different beliefs and perceptions; this was a breath of fresh air. In strengthening my connection to my higher power, I hoped would aid in repairing and healing some of the hardship that had encompassed my life. The STIR Retreat felt healing. The friendships and mentorship have extended beyond the two-day STIR Retreat. I have kept up with a good many of the people whom I met, we celebrate our successes, share our hardships and continue the conversation involving Spirituality. I am ever grateful to have been offered to go on the STIR Retreat and to have found lovely supportive people whom I am comfortable continuing to share with.