"Having had a spiritual awakening..."
-Step 12 of Alcoholic Anonymous
The whole of Step 12 reads like this:
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts and to practice these principles in our lives.
Today, there are a couple of aspects of this step that smack me upside the head and soul. First is my spiritual awakening. Whoa! Have I really woke up to the spiritual principals of the 12 Steps?
I find it so easy to get caught up in the practice of the steps that I often recognize that I am more concerned about following the rules, knowing the steps accurately, and staying within the accepted materials of the recovery organization that I lose sight of the spirituality of my sobriety. I get consumed with my recovery checklist: did I read the meditation today? Did I make a phone call today? Did I practice my spiritual ritual today? Did I avoid my drug of choice today?
Then, when I have checked off everything on my list, I relax and assure myself that I am sober and connected to my Higher Power for that moment. Yet, yesterday, a woman approached me with the agony of her paranoia and pain. I listened for over 90 minutes while offering reassurance and affirmation to the actions she was expressing. We shared a heart felt embrace when she left in the morning. Yet, when she showed up later in the evening, I felt my sense of exasperation when she began the same monologue all over again. Fortunately there was another woman present who offered the time and attention she needed.
I had a feeling of failure thinking that I refused to carry our message and had to let someone else do so.
WAIT! Breathe with me a moment, please.
The first word of the 12 steps is "WE". If the other person had not been present, the woman asking for help would have been stuck with my sucky attitude. Instead, she was offered our message of hope and community.
I don't have to do it all by myself. We are a community. We are the spiritual presence of sobriety.
I needed this experience to learn the power of community. I was offered another opportunity for a spiritual awakening.
I find it very difficult to express gratitude when I feel sorry for myself. Hmmmm? There is no end to our journey, is there? I needed someone else to carry this message, and I received it as well as the woman who asked for help.
Humble pie! Wanna bite? I'm willing to share.
This experience is the practice of the principles. Only for me, sobriety is not a principle to be practiced. This experience shared above is an stark example of "spiritual awakening".
Spirituality is not a principle I practice, it is a presence that I wake up to.
I need to hear this again: spirituality is not a principle I practice, it is a presence that I wake up to.
My Higher Power is not a principle I practice, it is a reality that I wake up to.
I wake up to the depth of sobriety. At the same time, practice of the principles results in a lifestyle that wakes me up to the spiritual reality of sobriety.
OK, I have to ponder this for a bit. I have to ponder this for the rest of my life.
It appears that sobriety might be interchanged with trauma resolution. We know that addiction is a response to trauma. Sobriety is the awakening to the transformation from a lifestyle of trauma to a lifestyle of grace and peace.
Like my addiction, my trauma is "managed" within a community. Our Higher Power is present in our community. All of the serenity, courage and wisdom promised by every religion I am aware of is present in our communities.
So, once again, I humbly stand in your presence as a community. I continue to awaken to the message of "us". We are the spiritual awakening that gets a bit brighter, louder, and stronger each time one of us becomes vulnerable enough to reach out. We are the promised message of sobriety.
Thank you. I need this time with you all, beside the restful waters. Somewhere in the world the water is warm enough to jump in.
Let's do it.