Wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.
Dear members and friends,
This past Monday, I drove down to Los Gatos to deliver a blessing at the opening ceremony of Embodied Recovery, which provides services for people suffering with addiction and codependency. While I was driving down on 280 South, I reflected on the matter of addiction. Personally, I believe that addiction is one of the toughest enemies that humankind as a whole is fighting these days. Yet, its threatening presence and impact is not always fully acknowledged or understood.
In my reflection, I thought about how one would become an addict. Then, I recalled a verse in Psalm 104 regarding the wine, God gave “wine to gladden the human heart.” People might be drawn to substance abuse in the beginning because it gladdens their hearts. According to Swedenborg, a human heart is designed by God to pursue delights. The problem is often that humans seek delights in material substances, while their hearts thirst for spiritual delights. What comes next and makes everything worse is the human arrogance that whispers in one’s ears, “you can control this.” As we all know, in most cases humans cannot control either themselves or the influence of a substance after they have developed an addiction.
There are three well-known pieces of advice that I would like to share. The first is that we stay alert so that we do not develop any addiction, and that we develop a healthy way of comforting and delighting ourselves in order to avoid addiction. The second is that if we find ourselves developing an addiction, we should seek help immediately. The third is that in both cases, we need to find a way to cultivate ourselves by ourselves rather than through addicting substances or activities. This will ensure a continued freedom from addiction and a life of autonomy and independence in regard to comfort, delight and fulfilment.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee