by Greg Hermann
“Jesus had no trouble with otherness. In fact, these “lost sheep” found out they were not lost to him at all, and tended to become his best followers.”
Richard Rohr: The Universal Christ
As an addict, I have struggled with being the “other” one.
I experience my ‘otherness’ as isolation. In active addiction, isolation is my best friend, my safe place. Isolation allowed me to keep walls between me and all of the healthy people who would not accept me if they knew me, the addict. I thought I was safe in isolation. I believed in the safety of being ostracized by the healthy ones. I was ok in my otherness.
Recovery has introduced me to a whole community of ‘others’.
Others are guiding me on a journey of transformation. According to the Big Book, we are not to be related to an official religion so we don’t talk much about Jesus. (Shhh. Sometimes, we invoke our group conscious and talk about him anyway.) It’s with statements like Fr. Rohr’s today that engage my personal conscience with gratitude toward the Jesus I am coming to know. This Jesus is not hidden in a book, or in a church building, or in a dogma. He is one who has put skin to energy within the 12 steps of recovery. He/she is found in the gospels of our own lives.
We, as we gather to share our experience, strength and hope, see each other’s bleeding, scabbed scars. We hear the 'other' voices of condemnation as we struggle toward health and wholeness, often from those who threatened to leave us if we didn’t get our acts together.
Now, we put skin to forgiveness, acceptance, and our sacred sense of 'otherness' which forms our communities of sanctuary. These are the good news stories that form our lives of stability, acceptance and transformation in to our families, churches and support families. We practice our acts of forgiveness as we become forgiving. We practice acts of acceptance as we become accepting. We practice acts of inclusion as we become inclusive. We practice acts of invitation to all other addicts as we become inviting. We practice acts of sobriety as we celebrate the glory of a sober lifestyle. These are the be-attitudes that sustain and grow our holiness.
We find ourselves .......
We find ourselves as the living, breathing, fleshing images of the God of our experience.
We follow - we transform and become the God of our understanding in a kingdom - family here on earth - here in heaven. In this sense, we are not really following any 'one'.
Rather, we are being one, not defined by our labels or diagnostic categories, but by the gifts we have to offer ourselves.