A Call to Arms (To hold, and not to harm)

By Teresa (aka Joan) Cobleigh

Solemn on the western front where news blows in with hurricane-force winds, I hear the wailing from distant lands. Another young man down. Another one of ours — lost to an overdose. The anguish of loved ones who know addiction as war and are not alone in fighting it and the heavy silence of those still suffering in the trenches reach me like a dense plume of suffering. In the stillness of the morning hours, a voice calls to me, urging me to rise, find the words to serve this cause, and give what I can- time, talent, and treasure- before we lose more ground.

A Sign of the Times

The casualties of addiction are staggering — over 100,000 overdoses last year alone, and so many of them from young men and women before their prime of life. It is hard not to think that our very future is at stake and that this crisis is a sign of our times. Addiction may be a symptom of the struggle within our human condition and societal malaise. Self-mastery and social connection are marks of a higher consciousness that evolves from the understanding that we are all connected as one humanity. Addiction is a condition with emotional and social determinants, so this war is within and among us. In essence, addiction is an ultimate battleground test for humanity.

That still, small voice that urges me to rise just might be my “inner Joan of Arc,” who in her day claimed a divine calling as she courageously rode her horse on the countryside battlefields of France. She was no authority on warfare, but she inspired an army by winning hearts and minds. In our day, the metaphoric battlefields are much more personal. They speak to who we are, what we stand for, and how we relate to each other. This war on addiction asks what in ourselves needs to change, and it beckons for leaders to guide the way.

Before joining up with Herren Project, I faced an existential crisis. I lost my son Graham, and my life changed in an instant. Things that mattered once to me no longer held meaning. In the end, nothing truly endures but love. No degrees could prepare me for my journey and for my lessons in humility. I had to fall to my knees, powerless, humbled, and broken, before I could rise up again. I had to understand that I am no better or worse than any of my brethren. I now know wisdom comes from waving the white flag of surrender as you subjugate ego rather than stroke the intellect. And dignity may emerge as you get up off your knees to serve a call greater than yourself. Failure and loss may spawn a rising torrent of spirit that lifts you on wings of hope for change.

My process of personal recovery was not unlike the steps that many of us in our movement undergo when recovering from substances. I have a great appreciation and respect for those of you who have come through the personal battlefield to face the dark days of the soul and emerge triumphant, having overcome your personal “demons.” With transformation, hopefully, you have emerged as more enlightened human beings. In many of the world’s religions, you would be honored, not stigmatized, for you have learned the art of self-mastery, prized by Taoist warriors and Buddhists alike, Jedis and Knights. You have cultivated virtue to align with the force of good, met the test, and have earned the right to be torchbearers of light in this world.

Time and Talent

In the battlegrounds of addiction, we need you to rise. This is your call to arms.

The world needs more spiritual warriors with arms to hold arms and hands to stretch out – more gestures of goodwill and kindness to embrace a brother or sister in need. That is what joining our movement is all about, and Herren Project provides opportunities to give your time and talent to the cause.

As more people in recovery rise from the ranks to become peer recovery advocates, counselors, and sponsors, the greater our ability to impact the addiction and opioid crisis. You can support, empower and inspire others in their quest for personal transformation. The more you do it, the more we’ll have strength in numbers, and the more the world will change — one by one, one mind at a time, as each of us becomes the change we want to reflect in our world.

For our brothers and sisters, our loved ones lost on these battlefields, and those still struggling in the trenches of addiction, this cause is worth living and dying for, and we at Herren Project are here to support, inspire and empower you on our collective quest. Come to us with your battle scars and join our movement. We are a force that gains strength as we join together, each of us giving our spiritual gifts as they are in abundance to us — time, talent, or treasure.

Don Your Spiritual Swag

As you suit up in your caps and tee-shirts, think of them as the helmet and breastplate of your spiritual armor; know that we are one with you as you forge ahead, and those who have laid down their lives are with you in spirit. May you wear a symbol of our great big heart righteously on your sleeve. May truth surround you like a belt around your waist, and may your running shoes ground you in knowing that each footstep you walk in another’s shoes or run for the cause girds you more firmly with us in our collective hope and faith.

Herren Project’s core values serve as a code of honor to etch on your imaginary shield. These are our aspirational values and what we stand for; some deem them to be derived from a higher power. If this helps you, that is what the HP of Herren Project can stand for. Among our ethics are these:


Our swords are the instruments we use to serve this cause. Some of us are equipped with a pen. Others use guitars or voices. There are many gifts bestowed upon us that we can contribute to our cause.

As we come through the valleys to know a deeper truth, there is also cause for celebration. So put on your favorite inspirational music as you run. Find that good book. Let these words ring in your ear as you envision this modern-day Joan of Arc singing to the melody of Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond:


Rise to the ranks of peer recovery support. There are opportunities for you to study and serve. Herren Project needs recovery coaches and leaders for peer recovery meetings and will sponsor alumni who rise from our ranks. Run with us, support us or serve within our peer recovery ranks.


Each of us has gifts to bring to the cause and many with treasure to share. You can support Herren Project’s Empowerment Appeal to fuel the cause, and this treasure will provide opportunities for training through the client betterment fund. And that treasure will shine as the lighted wind behind us as we forge ahead to change one person, one family, one community, one day at a time.

Time is of the essence. For our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, those fallen on the killing fields and still in the trenches, may ye rise? Rise from the beeches and hills; rise from the mountains and plains; rise from the city streets. Our cause is worth living and dying for — the prize, no less elusive than the Holy Grail. We need torchbearers to light the way, to serve and protect, to ask not what is in it for them but rather the question that is the hallmark of our Herren Project way, “How can I help?”

And may each of our individual gifts be blessed as tokens of love that together bring about a new day and new way for all.

The Empowerment Appeal, Herren Project’s most impactful appeal of the year, is throughout July. This year stands for our unsung heroes—the loved ones who stand by those fighting the battle of addiction. Herren Project walks with individuals and families to provide free resources and support to help people begin and sustain their recovery. Herren Project’s online support groups are a vital piece of this journey. Your donation supports this service and the many treatment, recovery, and prevention services Herren Project offers nationwide. A gift of any amount will help sustain Herren Project’s mission to help individuals and families live healthy, fulfilling lives by preventing substance misuse, celebrating recovery, and creating resilient communities.

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