I posted this as a reflection to my Instagram a year ago. I have migrated to this delightful world called WordPress. This is an excerpt from Thomas Merton’s autobiography Seven Storey Mountain.
“Indeed, the truth that many people never understand,
until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid
suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and
more insignificant things begin to torture you, in
proportion to your fear of being hurt.
The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the
end, the one who suffers the most: and his suffering
comes to him from things so little and so trivial that
one can say it is no longer objective at all.
It is his own existence, his own being, that is at once
the subject and the source of his pain, and his very
existence and consciousness are his greatest torture.
This is another of the great perversions by which the
devil (Ego) uses our philosophies to turn our whole nature
inside out, and eviscerate all our capacities for good,
turning them against ourselves.”
I feel blessed to have been guided by Grace to endeavor to acknowledge and embrace my discomfort and “suffering” and have emerged on the other side the better for it.
“And now for something completely different” listen and be with whatever arises
When I do something for you, I’m not doing it for you, I’m doing it for me. “Charity is really self-interest disguised under the form of altruism” Anthony de Mello Awareness
My life today depends on being of service. Not only am I self employed in a service oriented profession, I have integrated a desire to be helpful and generous wherever possible. The most important realization to me about this is, that it truly is selfishness that is behind it. By recognizing and admitting that, I am relived of the urge to pat myself on the back. It’s just something I have to do today. I must give back in measure of what has been freely given to me.
This is, in case you were wondering, the last installment on principles to live by. (For me in particular) Service is the principle behind the 12th step from Alcoholics Anonymous. In the book this is where it describes how by sharing our experience with recovery from alcoholism/addiction, we are able to stay sober/clean.
I am of the mind that I can take this idea and incorporate it into the entire way I am. Looking for and finding ways I can be helpful. Being generous with my time money and acquisitions. Listening when someone is speaking, without formulating a response before they’re finished. And most of all acknowledging and expressing gratitude when someone is helpful to me.
I feel so lucky to be able to embrace, wholeheartedly, the idea that I can improve my conscious contact with God. I acknowledge that many face seemingly insurmountable obstacles when even considering this. It started with the barest beginnings with me. Saying Please when I wake and Thank you as I lay down to end my day.
I am, in this piece, divulging my experience with spirituality. This is the principle behind AAs 11th step- Sought, through prayer and meditation, to improve our conscious contact with God As we understood Him, Praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
I find it impossible to describe what or who my God is. I ascribe to the idea that God is incomprehensible to the human mind. In addition, that the greatest obstacle to finding God is the word, God. In my endeavor to get and stay clean and sober, I devoured all sorts of spiritual and religious texts. We here in the U.S., how each of us is exposed to God is one of family tradition. Neither my mother or father was outwardly religious, from what I can remember. I consider that a blessing, I had not been, “indoctrinated”, in any one flavor of Christianity. I, to this day, could not tell you the difference between a Baptist to a Lutheran and don’t think it matters. My encounter with God is personal and unique to myself. I have no right to say what is right for you.
I do believe though it is important to exhibit (be) an example of the change that God/Christ has made in my life, however failingly.
There is a source of Grace, Mercy, Strength, and Love available to any and all who find a reason to seek for any of those. It is unlimited and infinite. I have found it is also not possible to ever stop getting closer to this source. Call what you will, if any who care to, can stop and be still for even a moment, will find it is there and always will be.
Like the fragrance of a flower, the warmth of the sun, the refreshment of a summer rain, God is in me and I am in Him. Spirituality is the cornerstone/keystone of my life today. As best as I am able I am in a constant state of prayer/meditation/mindfulness. If I get caught up in my natural frailties, inevitably something brings me back, a bug hitting my windshield, a bird in flight, the breeze on a hot day, the smile of a stranger, the beauty of a piece of music or the way lyrics of a song touch. Events such as these will help me remember what I’m here for. To be of service, more in my next installment.
We I’m here, writing again about principles that I work toward living by. Today I am writing about justice, which is aligned with the 9th step. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
For me though, the step is taking direct action out of love for my one self. I have done a great deal of harm toward others by acts of commission and omission. And in doing so damaged my spirit, my being, this damage led to a pain of the sort that compelled me to continue using. At this stage of working through the 12 steps, I have gained a better knowledge of myself and my frailties. I have also become more sensitive to the effects of my behavior on myself and others.
I must do what I can too, to start healing myself. If I delay, I will endure discomfort and continue to crave relief, leading to all kinds of odd self-seeking self-gratifying and potentially harmful knucklehead activities. I must reach out to those I have affected and offer to make things right. No apologies, I merely acknowledge the infraction and the desire to make it right.
This excerpt from The Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous is often recited at meetings and they have all come true for me.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed beforewe are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us–sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
Continuing with my venture into describing principles acquired, developed, learned, what have you, recovering from addiction. It is my assertion that the 12 steps and the order they are in, are divinely inspired. All of the previous steps and principles are needed to make progress to the next.
So we’re at step 8. Made a list of all the people we harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Old timers say that the principle here is brotherly love, there seems to be a bit of debate about this as I have seen a few others. Willingness, discipline among others. I contend that it truly is Love.
I have realized that what I do to or for others I inflict or provide to myself. My spirit is damaged or enriched by the actions I take toward others. Even just in thought.
If I am to heal my being and become a decent human, able to interact and function in society. I must be rid of the hurt I have caused myself and others. Writing down the names of those I have harmed and becoming willing to bridge the chasm created by my behavior is an imperative exercise on the road to recovery.
Contemplating the love of God is invaluable in this undertaking. God knows my heart and all of my history and Loves me. I must do, be that love to work through this.
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