Dear Recovery Café Network family,
There is an old adage that may be applicable to the work of each Recovery Café in our network: “Everything is a mess in the middle.”
When we are just getting started there is lots of energy and excitement. There are many unknowns, for sure. But once we’ve committed to launching a Recovery Café every day feels like an adventure. Every day we are on the brink of something new. It’s like being on a treasure hunt. We are searching for partners, volunteers, grants, space and members. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe describes well the magic that occurs after one has fully committed.
“All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision to commit, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would come their way.”
In that beginning stage we live with a sense of awe over all that is being given and all that is coming together. Then there is the opening of our new Café and a broader celebration. Although we’re exhausted, we bask in the glow.
A few months, a year or even more after the opening we move into the post-honeymoon phase. That is the phase in which, having implemented all the pieces as best as we knew how, there are unexpected failures. Maybe membership is still low. Maybe an expected grant goes to another non-profit. Maybe we are still in a cramped, borrowed space. Maybe a key, well-trained staff person moves away or takes a different job. That’s the “mess in the middle.” Every new venture experiences its own unique “mess in the middle.”
During such times, we need to stay grounded in the truth of our work—that we all need a community of belonging if we are to heal and become all we were created to become—and let go of our attachment to results. Our focus must be on faithfulness to the vision of creating healing community, not on perfection. Parker Palmer reminds us that, “wholeness doesn’t mean perfection, it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.”
During the “mess in the middle,” stay close to your Network family through check-in calls and trainings. Have coffee often with the members of your Café to connect to their stories. Take intentional time as a staff team to share stories that ground you in your Café’s deepest vision and help each other hold the “mess” together.
Let your hearts break over and over again by the suffering of those still trapped by isolation and loneliness. Take heart in the truth that this “messy” phase is not unique to your Café.
We can embrace the current “mess” and brokenness in ourselves and in our Cafés, trusting that it is all part of this journey we are making together.
With profound love and gratitude for each of you,