When entering Aurora through the main doors, you may have admired the tapestry that is displayed on the wall inside. Black fabric with a striking bright figure of a Phoenix, a mythical bird that is a symbol of transformation. Here is how Wikipedia defines the Phoenix; “In Ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. Some legends say it dies in a show of flames and combustion, others that it simply dies and decomposes before being born again.”
Recovery and the Phoenix
Many people in recovery personally resonate with this symbol, having lived through years in the wasteland and soul death, only to experience resurrection through a mysterious grace.
Under the Phoenix is a quote from Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic:
“You’ve seen my descent” “Now watch my rise”
Rumi’s work has provided inspiration and insight to people all over the world for centuries. His poetry can move us from a place of confused limitation towards a vast perspective of our lives. Some have described his work as ecstatic, but I find that it is also grounded in universal truth and natural law. I experience joy while contemplating his words, but I am also soothed.
The Phoenix Tapestry Donated in Memory of Jens David Wenzel
Investigating further, I discovered that the tapestry was donated to Aurora. It is a memorial work, conceived and gifted in memory of Jens David Wenzel. This young man’s life was impacted by addiction, and tragically, he did survive the ravages.
I reached out to Jens’ parents, Warren and Denise Wenzel. Former Gimli residents, they now reside in Ontario. I had left them a message explaining that I wished to create a newsletter story about the tapestry, and I had some fear that I may awaken some painful memories that they wished to keep in the past.
Warren returned my call, and I was gratified to hear from a couple who are so very understanding and loving, that I found myself personally reassured and feeling blessed.
Parents Voice Their Ultimate Fear at Aurora Family Recovery Group
On my Sundays at Aurora in the Family Recovery Group sessions, I sit in the circle with parents who give voice to their ultimate fear, that active addiction will rob them of their child. Yes, this condition is treatable and long-term remission can be achieved, but there is always a chance that tragedy will strike.
Each of us brings a unique gift to the world. Denise and Warren shared about their beautiful son, and how his light brightened their lives. We all know how the descent into addiction changes us into a dark shadow of our true self, creating pain and fear and pushing away all that is true.
Denise shared that her perception of her son while addiction was manifest is like seeing him “through a film,” a layer of darkness where beauty is obscured.
Poetry, symbolic representations, and other creative expressions can be lifesaving healers.
How fortunate we are to have those who are open-hearted, wise and creative to help us grieve and make life bearable when an unfathomable loss happens. Poetry, symbolic representations, and other creative expressions can be lifesaving healers. Warren is a sculptor and brings beautiful objects to life to share with us all. He strikes me as someone who is intimately connected with the timeless cycles that we are all moving within, and the bittersweet nature of feeling the pain and joy that are woven into our life tapestry.
How fortunate we are at Aurora. Each day we are in the building, we can have our spirits lifted by gazing at the beautiful artwork on our wall.
Next time you visit, please spend a few moments with the Phoenix. What is transitory, and what is eternal? Remember Jens David Wenzel; perhaps others who have had their time with us ended too soon will come to mind. Bring to mind the joy, laughter and unique gifts that they have graced us all with.
Let Love Rise.