10-Hardest-Life-Fish-BowlHow do you react to change? Do you seek it, always hoping for something new and exciting? Do you dread it, structuring your life to avoid or delay it? Do you deny it altogether?

We all know that change is a condition of life. Without change, nothing would renew. But change can feel like death; it can initiate a grieving process for what we must lose in order to make way for new growth. How we react to the deaths that change brings determines how much we will deepen our understanding of ourselves and of life.

When we fight against change, we seek escape routes that can lead to addiction. When we try to force change to prevent boredom, we open ourselves to equally damaging behavior. Both reactions are based in fear. We fear what we cannot control. We fear what will arise in the quiet space of no-change.

St. Joseph Institute has undergone a major life change. Its founders, Michael and Jenny, have retired, leaving their legacy in the care of Summit. In one way, nothing has changed: St. Joseph’s retains its unique approach to recovery founded in holistic treatment and spiritual development. In another way, everything has changed: the website, the leadership, the marketing strategy, the range of treatment modalities, the number of residents, and more.

Change is frightening. Many of us who worked here under Michael and Jenny’s direction have mixed reactions: we are sad to see them go and worried how the change will affect us, but we also feel excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Many of you may also be wondering what will change. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Pennsylvania leads the nation in overdose deaths among young adult men (link). Summit has the resources that will allow us to expand our reach and our services to better address this epidemic that over the last decade has killed more than twice as many Americans as homicide.
  • Not all rehabs are equal. We stand out from other rehabs because of our focus on holistic treatment. But not all holistic treatments are equal, and we will invest our resources into discovering which treatments work best for addiction, are supported by research, and can be made accessible to all residents as part of the cost of the program.
  • The success rate of even the best recovery programs is abysmally low. Our country desperately needs to know more about the causes of addiction and how to keep people in recovery. Summit desires to work with St. Joseph’s to conduct addiction research.
  • Because Summit owns many addiction treatment centers all over the country, our network of resources has suddenly become vast. Even here in central PA, we are now connected to and share information with two other centers equality committed to quality recovery programs. This makes it much easier for all of us to find the best care for clients.

Feeling good? We hope so. But this still doesn’t get to our point about change. Thoughts of opportunity or loss are thoughts of the future. Clinging to memories and “the-way-it-used-to-be” are thoughts of the past. But the future and the past are not real. The only reality is the reality of the present moment.

Consider this quote from Buddhist monk Pema Chodron: “When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.”

When we let ourselves not know, we surrender to the present. We give up our desire to control. We see our weaknesses without scorn, and we see our power without arrogance. We see that where we are in the present moment is always exactly where we need to be.

And so we say a fond goodbye to Michael and Jenny and wish them adventure and delight as they enter the next phase of their lives. We say hello to Summit and to change, looking forward with excitement even as we stay grounded, trusting that St. Joseph’s will always change and grow and always be exactly where it needs to be.


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