IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY PROJECTStories of Hope: Gino LloydAtlanta Retreatant and Team MemberI cannot remember the exact date of my first ISP retreat, but I can tell you that when I attended it I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I came upon the retreat because Ms. Jane Elliott, the Atlanta ISP Women’s Team Coordinator, suggested I attend the retreat. We met because I attended meetings at Common Ground of Hope.Let me give you a brief synopsis of how I came to be here. I joined the military in Washington, DC. This is where I first picked up hard drugs. I battled with the drugs for over twenty years. Eventually, my brother in Atlanta urged me to move to Atlanta with him, hoping that a geographic change might help me. It was not long after moving to Atlanta that I was back to my active addiction. Eventually I went to Veterans Affairs and tried to start a program but again it was not long until I was back to my addiction and my old ways of living.When I was 50 years old, I told myself I was going to give recovery another chance. I entered a lock-down program where they spoon fed me, encouraged me to get a sponsor and to work the 12 steps. This was the last thing I wanted to do, but somewhere along the way something changed. The program began to take hold of me. It began to become a part of my spirit. Eventually I began attending Common Ground of Hope meetings and eventually Jane invited me to attend a retreat. On that first retreat, a seed was planted.The day of the retreat I was filled with apprehension, but the calm I experienced almost immediately was like nothing I have ever experienced. For me, the experience was not an epiphany but a reconnection with God and with community. I felt rejuvenated and spiritually connected. The retreat was not forced. Nothing was forced. Everyone was brilliant and patient and open. I connected deeply with the experience of the Stations of the Cross. I also truly enjoyed watching Gran Torino. It was a powerful, powerful movie that prompted a powerful discussion. It showed that when someone loves you, no matter how tough you are, love will break you down and allow you to experience that love fully.Two years ago, I was so far from where I am today and God is so good. The retreat showed me the wonders God can work in us. When we sit in that circle and one man is talking and he can go into the depths of his soul, do you know how powerful that is? He can talk about anything he wants to between him and God. There is something about sharing, with a group of men, the spiritual aspects of life. The combination of NA and the ISP retreat has lead to a change in myself right in front of my own eyes.Eventually, Jane asked me if I was interested in helping to facilitate the retreats. Before experiencing the retreat, I would never have considered a leadership role, but I decided to say yes. I just put one foot in front of the other. Before, I was scared to have such responsibility. Today it helps me. It stretches me and I love that. When I am in the facilitator role I am held more accountable and I love that.Gino Lloyd is an active member of the Atlanta ISP retreat team and he thanks God that his life is in order and he is able to participate in the ISP retreats.
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