Beauty at Serenity Inns
This past Wednesday Dixie and I brought the meal for the residents of the Inn. The conversation at the table was once more a witness to the ‘plus’ that many of the residents experience as part of Serenity Inn’s approach to recovery. Sitting beside me one of the men said, “This is my thirteenth time in a recovery program. There is not another like this.” Another said, “I have never lived in a more beautiful spot. This is great.”
As we enter our 12th year in providing opportunities for men to begin meaningful recovery, I am drawn to rehearse again the values and principles that have invited us to this work.
They continue to guide our decisions. Of all the wonderful insights that Samaritan Inns [in Washington, D.C.] shared with us in the early days, the rarest and least understood yet important has to do with ‘Beauty.’
We regard the men as ‘beautiful’ in the midst of their human struggle. We employ staff who embody ‘beauty’ in their personal style. The staff develops programs that depend on the role of ‘beauty’ in one’s life, therefore the ‘spiritual growth’ emphasis. The men witness over and over to the ‘beautiful’ people that daily come and provide a meal.
Serenity Inn is a facility that is so much more than a place to lay one’s head. The hands that built it from scratch 14 years ago chose the colors, the room arrangements, the architectural touches so a living space could be part of the healing process, a process emphasizing the role of ‘beauty’ in life. With Bill Buehler’s dedicated work to ‘maintenance’ along with other volunteers working on the landscaping, gardening and the tasks, ‘beauty’ is sustained. The yearly celebration at the Italian Community Center is an event of beauty, as are the stories that the men share. Add the summer picnic hosted by the residents, the alumni Christmas celebration and the whole emphasis on beauty becomes essential to how men recover.
When that ‘beauty’ is absent, unnecessary struggle ensues. We lose our focus. Less important values move beauty aside.
It is with that backdrop that I read “When Beauty Strikes” by David Brooks in this morning’s NYTimes (1/15/2016). I share it with the hope that as we plan expansion and provide more and more services, we will always emphasize the necessity of ‘beauty’ being primary in our work. This, I believe, is central to our ‘spiritual growth’ as the board.