Eternal vigilance is required on this and all spiritual journeys. Why? Alcoholism is a disease that is cunning, baffling, power-full, insidious and above all patient. On top of all that it is the only disease that tells you, "you do not have the disease." Only a Higher Power can strengthen and guide the suffering one for this journey. AA does not go out and actively recruit new members. AA depends "on attraction rather than promotion." When one is afflicted with the disease it will take a recovering alcoholic to offer the sufferer, hope. How is this hope offered? Through an encounter with a person who has had and does have ongoing moment to moment personal battle with the disease. The person or persons, (it is recommended that a 12 step call is shared by two) share honestly their story. They share from their gut what it was like, what happened and what it is like now. Nothing is held back. In this hard-difficult-sharing something wonder-full awe-full happens. The suffering alcoholic is gifted with the hope that what happened to those two sitting before him/her can happen to the suffering one as well. In the mystery of sharing of their experience, there is strength and hope, strength is engendered and hope bubbles up from the depths of hopelessness. Hope was and is always within our depths but we need someone, some event to trigger its release. The two in recovery become wounded healers after years of being the ones who wounded. This is the miracle resulting from grace which is aptly described as The Higher Power’s Love in action.
In sharing their story of recovery they are, I would like to suggest, they are not only speaking of their personal battle with addiction and what it took to enter recovery; they are in fact speaking about so much more. In the sordid and troubling events of their lives in addiction is relaying their personal encounter with The Paschal Mystery. They have known suffering and loss, death. Through all their experiences in recovery they discovered after a time where nothing appeared to be happening, tomb time, new life slowly emerges and eventually comes to full bloom, resurrection. This can happen only through the unearned, undeserved gift of grace. The same Power that brought about The Resurrection is the same power that works the wonder of resurrection in those chosen in their extreme woundedness and brokenness. Our God is close to the brokenhearted and from all their distress He rescues them. There is a personal God totally committed to a personal involvement in our lives. This involvement is always there whether we accept or not. The fact you are in existence means God is thinking of you with an infinite passionate love, has your name carved on the palm of His hand and is carrying you on His broad shoulders. How often we have seen that picture of the shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders. The lamb is the weak and broken part of all of us especially anyone suffering and weakened by addiction and/or compulsion. We have to at some time or another face stark harsh reality of us humans who are in the same boat. To get off that sinking ship we are provided with the tools which will bring us to safety. The first tool in the tool box is honesty. Not perfect honesty, but we need to express the desire to be honest. Be patient, becoming honest is a process.
Why the emphasis on honesty? Because honesty is essential for recovery along with open mindedness and willingness. H.O.W. is the key offered so all can be freed from the prisons of guilt, fear and shame. (These three I like to call the toxic trinity as opposed to The Holy Trinity.)
(to be continued...)