I agreed to meet a stranger near the cop shop at the Takasaki station in the Gunma precinct of Japan. Now it was near the noon appointed time and I was unsure of where we were meeting and kept hearing my mothers voice between my ears, “Don’t meet strangers…” spoken with all the cautions her love could pile on. Then this wonderful liberating moment flooded over me. A stranger called my name. We said hello, hugged like long lost friends and I knew everything was going to be alright and my mother was wrong. I had just taken the bullet train from Tokyo and was hurled into a whole new world that I knew inside out. Shonne introduced himself and we drove, chattering like old friends, to the Gunma Rehab Centre. He affectionately and with literal translation called it a daycare centre. In all my years in recovery I had never heard it labeled as honestly.
Before we went any further I was introduced to a solid meal of noodles, beef, broth and tempura. Lining up as we passed the various cooking and prep stations it became clear that Shonne was opening my eyes to the tender wonder of Japan. He loved Recovery and shared that love.
In the line up we were served great food at great speed. As Shonne put it, “This is where we eat if we have time.” Sitting down with Shonne and Shoichi for noodles to share stories of recovery I knew from the fervor (not food) in their bellies that recovery was possible and CENTRAL to all they did. They shared with me how impressed they were with the honor of three members of the Last Door community stopping to visit Gunma while on holidays in Japan. Each visit rekindled recovery for the staff and clients. The staff team crowded around the workspace in the office to say hello.
The space was too small, the clients too many and yet this morning again they admitted a new client into recovery from the local hospital. Shonne graciously asked me to share a few words. What struck me and what I shared is that this room full of people were my chosen family and for those who had suffered loss or experienced emptiness this was their chosen family. The most miraculous thing was that half a world away from the Last Door this group was living and enjoying life in Recovery. Some members of the staff team will be visiting the Last Door in September and celebrating recovery and Recovery Day with the Last Door community. The learning experience for the Gunma team will catapult recovery to the next level. The knowledge transfer between successful agencies in two countries will continue to evidence that recovery works. I was honored to share my journey of recovery with all those at Gunma, but most moving was the wise mother who had lost her son years earlier who now saw these men as her chosen family. Recovery heals with hope,