Written By: A No Longer Bound Resident, Austin
Combining Two of My Favorite Things
One of my favorite hobbies is photography. It combines two of my favorite things in life: being alone and the beauty of the world around me. I’m able to steal a moment and forever hold it if I choose to. For that very reason, I’ve always loved taking pictures of flowers.
I love any flowers really, it doesn’t matter the type; even weeds are pretty in their own ways. However, I am fond of recently bloomed flowers. There is something special about capturing the most beautiful step in its life cycle.
It’s so incredible when the bloom springs from its bud and opens itself fully to the world around it for the first time. The flower selflessly shines into the world around it with no need for a thank you. Just being itself. The world can look upon it as God intended.
This selfless budding reminds me of what is taking place here at No Longer Bound, a faith-based rehab.
With only a few short months passing by come the days where the buds begin to show – steadily growing and beginning to really open up. To begin with, it gains comfort within itself, receiving direct sunlight upon what it really is and what it is meant to be. It still has some time before it will fully open up.
Similarly, guys get here as barely growing stems, desperately needing help. The staff puts in work, the culinary crew gives some nutrients, and God provides healing and time. All of these things working together lead to buds starting to show within our community.
At this point, there is really no amount of coaxing that can further this process along quicker. Just like the flowers, it is visible when a man gets to this stage. He has hesitation to open up to the community. At the same time, he has glorious moments of maturity and growth. Meaning, he suddenly has the want and need to open up, however, there is still comfort in remaining closed off to the world around him.
It is safe to remain in the bud. We feel so much comfort hiding from the world in layers of protection wrapped around the pretty parts.
Help Without the Hurt
Eventually, however, our nature comes through, and we spread out our petals and allow the real us to be seen for the first time ever, possibly. It is truly beautiful when we bloom.
Over time, we have a willingness to not just help others, but be helped without resentment or hurt feelings. We are open to making changes from the environment rather than blocking them off and hiding from our much-needed changes.
Ultimately, we watch grown men really accept and become the helping hand, shoulder to cry on, a crutch to lean upon, and a guide to follow. It is an impressive and touching thing to witness.
This leads to another favorite thing of mine: the effect of one bloom on the buds around it.
We watch as one bud blooming affects the buds around it. In other words, it’s almost as if it’s calling to the others to follow it on the wonderful journey it found itself on. It’s like it selfishly or apprehensively doesn’t want to be the lone bloom, and needs its surrounding buds to follow into blooming themselves.
Similarly, it’s a process we all go through here. As men, we watch our brothers start off as closed-off individuals, only interested in protecting themselves from the outside world and content with being alone. Then, they transform in to opening up day by day, little by little, to what everyone around them has to offer.
As a staff member, it must be amazing to watch each wave of men blooming together and opening up in their own time. Eventually, this campus becomes a full community of open men. They allow the beauty God has bestowed upon each of them to shine, and they can serve as a light to guide the people behind them towards their own blooming.
Reflecting on the Growth
Finally, I’m blessed to be able to capture this event in photos. The growth I’ve seen through my camera lens is truly amazing. It is my blessing and privilege to witness the blooming of our community. It is something I will always remember as I have captured these memories forever. These photos are reminders of the growth we have all physically, mentally, and spiritually gone through. Put simply, they’re reminders of our blooming into what God knew we were always meant to be.
“I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:5-7)
Click this link for more information on our faith-based approach to addiction recovery.