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Beside Restful Waters

by Gregory Hermann

“Until we tame our demons, we will never recognize our angels.”

Fr. Richard Rohr


I am supposed to tame my demons??

Yikes! I have been running from them. I have been letting them go. I have been escaping from them. I have been avoiding them.


Tame them?

When I had a pet that was tame – a large German Shephard – we were friends. We went a lot of places together. We wrestled together. We ran the fields together. I fed him oatmeal when he was sick. I read to him when he was sick. These are things we did together – my tamed animal and I – together.

Everyone I have met in recovery is dealing with demons. We have a variety of labels for them, like character defects and trauma. We have feelings about them: shame, fear, anxiety, depression, exhaustion……………. None of these is at all positive, like a tame pet can be.

Yet as I reflect on the progress of sobriety, (the relationships with my demons) I hear a variety of teachings and suggestions from the past 20 years or so. One in particular comes to mind from a Native American brother: as we were about to enter into a ceremony, he stopped for a few moments at the back of the ceremonial lodge. Then he proceeded to enter into the ceremony. Later, I asked what he was doing. He explained: “I was greeting and thanking the opposite spirit. Then I asked that spirit to leave as he was not welcome in this ceremony.”

“I asked that opposite spirit to leave.”

He was in conversation with the opposite, negative, unhealthy spirit, ‘demon’. He expressed no fear, no anxiety, no shame. Simply greeted, thanked, and asked the spirit to leave.

I think of my addictive nature (I’ve named him George.) I have come to recognize when George is present. I have come to know my demon, George.


I haven’t thought about this connection. I know George well and when he visits offering me opportunities to use my addictive substance, I no longer am ashamed or afraid or anxious. I am learning to simply ask him to leave so I can further my relationship with sobriety. That sober (angelic) relationship is known by forgiveness, acceptance, joy, peace, laughter. Sober relationships – angels – are fruitful, invigorating, motivating, and just plain fun.

Who are your demons?

I suggest you spend more time with them and get to know them well enough to enter into conversations – into relationships. Then you can, we can, direct those relationships. This allows the space we need to engage our angels.

I have quite a family of angels.

Yup! I have lots of angels and we know who we are to each other.

I thank you, my angels. All of you – from my past – in my present – and those who will join the party in the future.


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