Monday, April 29, 2019

TAKING MIRACLES FOR GRANTED

Shaker Wall at the Center
Brothers In Spirit, the annual men's retreat at the Notre Dame Spiritual Center in Alfred, Maine was meeting for the 20th time. I was program chair, our theme was "That Higher Power Thing," and for the previous couple of weeks I had been sweating cannonballs. The program, essentially, involved discussing and sharing on probably the most difficult and personal subject in NA, the Higher Power problem, as well as one of the most explosive issues in the world: believing, not believing, in which god, how to use or be used by this or that supreme being, which message or messages to follow, which set of rituals, which raiment, which set of dietary laws, which set of scriptures, which holy beings in which sect to follow to be good with the spirit world, good with my fellow temple, church, synagogue, mosque, circle mates, and keeping, as well, those in differing sects from throwing bombs through my window and slaughtering everyone with swords and submachine gun fire.



Addicts, especially those new in recovery, are not the most tolerant of persons. Neither are they usually patient, forgiving, non-judgmental, understanding, nor open-minded. These are skills and qualities one develops after years and decades in recovery. One cannot count on old-timers, however. As with modern education, I have known those who managed to go through the entire process of recovery without learning much nor changing a thing. So, we proposed to take this bunch, mix them up with the world's most controversial subject, and see if we could learn anything from the process. I should add, we did not provide metal detectors nor pat-down body searches at the meetings.

Check out this program:

Came To Believe —or Not! For many the biggest stumbling block in recovery is the “came to believe” part of Step Two. Why do that? How do you begin believing? How to get around a life of unbelieving.
The Decision: Wills & Lives In recovery, what does turning one’s will and life over to an HP mean? How is it done? How to detect reservations.
To Find, Have & Use an HP Talk is not cheap if your Higher Power is nothing more than words. How to find and use your individual Higher Power in recovery and in life.
Sending & Receiving Sharing the prayers we use and the ways we meditate, not just to achieve a closer contact with our HP’s, but to stay clean, grow in recovery, and live life.
Journeys In Spirituality We find our HPs each on our own path, but many get stuck along the way. Sharing experience, strength, and hope in our spiritual journeys.

There were tears, laughter, and men sharing their deepest fears, pains, hopes, loves, and aspirations. We all learned from each other, picked up what we could use to apply to our own lives and recoveries, got help where we needed it, exchanged numbers and made bonds of friendship and fellowship. What we did not do is argue, judge, nor attempt to dictate or control what another believed, how they prayed, nor even if they prayed. What we all did was shut up and listen to each other.

When a recovering addict speaks in the circle on what he believes or how he communicates with his HP, we listened. We didn't stab him to death, blow up his room, smear his name in the media, nor slaughter four hundred innocent passersby in protest. We listened, often celebrated his achievement, and even learned a thing or three we could apply to our own spiritual journeys. It was a miracle that outshone any bright lights or burning bushes and we almost let it pass without recognizing it for what it was. Thankfully, a couple of speakers pointed it out at the last sharing session. You don't want to let those miracles zip on by without notice.

There is an old newspaper yarn about what constitutes a newsworthy story. "Dog Bites Man," is not newsworthy. "Man Bites Dog" is. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and those of various faiths being torched, blown up, and worshippers slain in endless horrific ways is almost so commonplace it isn't newsworthy unless the body count is so high it in itself becomes remarkable.  Well, under the heading of "Man Bites Dog," in a tiny town in Maine, Jews, Christians, Islamists, Pagans, Buddhists, and atheists got together to peacefully discuss spirituality, higher powers, recovery, share their deepest beliefs, and learn from each other. And they did.























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