It was slightly more than 20 years ago. A delightful summer afternoon, ironically this memory includes me mowing the lawn. Ironic because I because I mow lawns for a living in the summer. My friend John is walking by. I stop what I’m doing to visit. He tells me about a new type of treatment program that is solely based on the spiritual principles found in the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous. At this point, having a little more than 2 years of continuous sobriety/clean time. I thought, boy I sure wish I could go there.
Well little did I know at that time, what the mighty Jester of the Cosmos had written in the book of my life. On November 16th, 1998 I entered the program at The Retreat.
The first thing that hit me was, during a Big Book study with Roger B. He says. “I hope you’re DONE and not just here to take a break.” Woah, just woah. Yes, I’m so done. The next thing was again Roger B. “Are you willing to believe in the possibility?” That a Higher Power could restore me to sanity. Yes! That would be the beginning of an intention to improve my conscious contact with God “as I understand God” which is impossible to comprehend. The basis of which is how I am willing to carry on without chemicals.
Fast forward to today. I have discovered the enlightened self-interest of, and the key to staying sober is helping others to recover. Wait, how can I help? What do I have to offer? Well as it turns out I have my experience. Which through sharing that, I am able to stay in recovery from addiction. I have found something else even more valuable than my experience. It is worth more than any material or financial commodity. It costs nothing but requires an immense amount of energy if offered with intention.
The most valuable thing is My Attention
Giving freely of my attention is the most generous thing I can do. With attention I discover understanding and that is what I get in return.
I can’t see it, touch it, smell it or hear it. I do know, however, that it is there. I can feel it if I am open and attentive to it. Love is infinite, unbounded and beyond description. I must, if I am to pass it on to those I encounter practice faith in it. Devote my entire being to it continually, perpetually. From that Love comes Forgiveness, Gratitude, Hope and Generosity
As I feel the pain, anguish, and despair. I remain silent in solitude.
“But before we come to that which is unspeakable and unthinkable, the spirit hovers on the frontiers of language, wondering whether or not to stay on its own side of the border, in order to have something to bring back to other men. This is a test of those who wish to cross the frontier. If they are not ready to leave their own ideas and their own words behind them, they cannot travel further.” Thomas Merton No Man is an Island
If I had not been broken to the point of utter despair, by the Grace of God. I would have no use for the forgiveness, comfort, and peace available to me from that source. God so loved me, to allow me to attempt every avenue of escape from my true self and Him that I might, and did collide with reality.
Now I can fly. Suffer the feelings, without want of escape from them. I can contemplate the peace I have been blessed with and radiate the love, the Perfect Love I can summon when chaos erupts. It is truly available to any and all that find a need for it.
Remember those for whom you care. Tell them what they mean to you and scatter your love and light, as that is the only solution to dispell Hate and Darkness
And boy, do I have some. Astronomical in size comes to mind. What brought this on? One might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. If you have been following along, you know of my desire to help. Well, it has become painfully apparent that I can do more.
Through reading blogs, scripture, news and so on. The question arises, what have you done for “the least of mine”. Not a lot I must admit. Lately, though I have given some dollars to those requesting “anything helps” at intersections.
I had, in the past, thought that these people were actually just doing this for their job and that they probably made more money than I do. Upon reflection, I found within that this was devoid of compassion.
Another area in my sorted life, where I find room for improvement is in refraining from the judgment of others. This has been brought about reading from Thomas Merton’s No Man is an Island “If we are to love sincerely, and with simplicity…We must somehow strip ourselves of our greatest illusions about ourselves, frankly recognize in how many ways we are unlovable, descend into the depths of our being until we come to the basic reality that is in us, and learn to see that we are lovable after all in spite of everything”, and that we are loved precisely because of our flaws.
As I emerge from the other side, I am better able to love, any and all. And, most important understand.
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