In ancient Greece, there was a mythical king named Theseus. He was the founder of Athens and known throughout the world for his heroic deeds. During his reign, Theseus commissioned to have a ship built that would travel the world, acquire goods, and bring them back to its home port. This was not just any ship. At the time, the Ship of Theseus was known throughout the world as the greatest vessel on the seas. Theseus traveled on that very ship for his legendary trip to Crete, where he slew the Minotaur, or so the story goes.
After his adventure, Theseus brought the ship back to Athens and docked it in the harbor as a memorial. Sometime after Theseus’ death, the ship was reassigned back to its original mission. Repairs were made to the ship, decayed boards were replaced, and the ship set sail. As it traveled from one port to another, members of the crew would leave the service of the captain and new recruits would be brought on. Like any other ship, boards of the hull would break and need to be replaced. At one point, the ship was caught in a terrible storm that broke the main mast in half and it too was replaced. Eventually the captain retired and the first mate was promoted. One by one, the boards of the ship were repaired and replaced until none of the original pieces remained. The sail and anchor were upgraded. Over time, all the original crew had left and a new set of faces walked the decks of the ship. Over the years, the ship continued to sail until it was eventually abandoned.
The story of the Ship of Theseus is a paradox that has been studied by many philosophers throughout history. Many people question whether the ship that was abandoned was the same ship that was created. The basic structure of the ship was the same, but none of the original components remained. The builders and crew of the ship were long gone. So, was this still the Ship of Theseus? Of course, the answer to this problem of identity is subjective to who you ask.
At The Healing Place, we have been experiencing some changes of our own over the last few years. The recovery program has grown and new support programs have sprung up around it. These new programs did not change the mission, but it would be naive not to acknowledge that they have affected the “ship’s” course. As I look around at the staff, there are only a few remnants left from the time when the foundations of this program were laid. The rest of us are a newer generation who are set in place, prepared to carry the torch forward. Almost all the old buildings are gone and the ones that remain will be structurally changed. It is easy for people to wonder if this is still The Healing Place that began so many years ago. So now, I ask you “What gives this program its identity?”
I would propose that the answer to this question is in the mission. This program may be contained in a different vessel and most of the crew may have changed hands. But, our mission is the precious cargo that we carry. It can be found on the faces of the clients that we serve. It is the hope that continues to manifest in the hearts of one client after another. It happens at different times for these individuals, but these random occurrences of hope form a constant presence in the culture of our program.
Hope is such a hard thing to find that it almost seems to be intangible. It only begins to exist when you start to believe that it can. It starts as a spark when one of our clients finds the desire for a better future. Then it burns stronger and stronger as they begin to realize that they can have that future with just a little bit of work. I believe that this is our identity.
Our mission is to carry that message of hope and then help to foster its growth. If we can stay true to that task, we will always be The Healing Place, just as it was meant to be. So, let the spectators talk and have their opinions. We will stay fixed to our duty as members of this crew. I for one, am grateful to be on this journey with you all and part of this great mission.