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Beside Restful Waters

“Take away the stone.”

-John 11:39

“Untie him and let him go free.”

-John 11:44

“…he learned obedience from what he suffered, and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

-Heb 5:9

These readings put me right in the middle of my life journey, right in the middle of my sobriety.

I am learning obedience from what I suffer. This is a subject matter that will be the major subject in my college of life and I expect to take the learning mindset to my grave. The word obedience has been a source of ego conflict since I was introduced to the Christian Ten Commandments as a grade school child. Obey the commandments! When I am given an order, my immediate response is a gut level sense of rebellion. No one will tell me what to do, no body! (As I write this, I notice I am pounding the keys.) As I grew older, rules meant a loss of freedom. Yet, as I ponder this, I recall my granddaughter asking me why we had to follow the rules as we were riding my bicycle. I explained that when we follow the rules we are given the freedom to ride anywhere we want. Disobedience of riding rules could result in loss of the bicycle. “Oh, grandpa, I don’t want that.”

Obviously, my memory is short as the statement above. The pondering gave me a moment to count the blessings of obedience. I enjoy freedom to drive my car all over the country. I celebrate 46+ years of marriage. I am graced with sobriety. Ah, sobriety. There are 12 Steps, ten commandments, 5 yamas, 5 niyamas, seven sacred Ojibway teaching, beatitudes, and a plethora of additional ‘rules’ to guide us in to sustained sobriety, in to a life flourishing with love and grace.

I have to catch myself for a moment. “… and when he became perfect he became a source of salvation for all who obey him.” There’s that ‘P’ word that so many of us struggle with. Isn’t it just grand that we can experience our freedoms of sobriety fully aware of our imperfections? Whew! My perfectionism has become one of those stones that are being rolled away. It is one of the wraps that is frequently taken off. This happens because of our willingness to forgive, 70 X 7 and more. I am beginning to wonder if the act of forgiveness is the practice of perfection given the healing grace of this act of love. Forgiveness is an opportunity to experience a perfect moment, a slice of heaven on earth, a profound sense of freedom. Is this our perfect act of love?

I digress. Back to the rules.

A wise man told me that following the rules is the basics of life. When love enters as the source of action, then obedience becomes an act of love without any sense of restriction. Rather, we are blessed with freedom. Gratitude becomes a mindset. Grace begets the presence of Divinity in all of creation. Life enters in to an ongoing sacred moment.

I need to hold this thought for a moment. Breath.

Untie him! As I entered the first of the 12 Steps, I began to experience the freedom of being untied, unburdened, and connected to people who accepted me without judgement. What a relief! These people came to know my deepest and darkest secrets. They became my mirror. I began to see truth in the presence of self-reflection. Each group meeting is an experience in “letting go” and freedom. We are letting each other go free. We practice this in every meeting, with every phone call or request for help. We practice untying each other, and we practice accepting others untying us.

It’s time for a happy dance. Join in.“

Take away the stone. Unwrap him.” Other people followed orders to take the stone from the grave of Lazarus. They followed orders to unwrap him and let him go free. I am Lazarus. Many people roll away stones from my eyes and heart. Many people unwrap my ego from my soul. I don’t even have to order them to do so. They do it out of love. So many people contribute to the wings that set me free.

So here I rest, in the midst of a Divine energy that sets the ground rules. I recognize that as a child, I needed to be ruled like a child. With time, patience, people, God, and an awesome universe, the rocks are rolled away and the wrappings continue to be taken away. Freedom continues to expand. All of this requires that we stay connected. All of this requires that we continue to live with the intention to embody our God and engage in creating the sacred moments that give us the hope of life on earth as in heaven. Our active intentions create a heaven in which we all participate, cooperate, embrace, and reveal. With us, the sacred eternal evolution unfolds within our freedom.

Let’s pinch ourselves. Let’s recognize our blessings.

Let’s enter the happy dance of life. Let’s gather beside our individual restful waters, and dive in. Skinny dipping is optional.


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