What a day, what a week, what a life …
After two months of scheduling, one of my most favorite people, well, one of my most favorite young women, spoke for me tonight.
She Is Joy Overload !!!
A while back, my best friend turned me on to a book. The Spirituality of Imperfection, Storytelling and the Search for Meaning, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.
HE had read the book, previously, because a friend gifted him the book at a meeting some years ago. So, He read the book, and then gave said book to me. I read, said book, and while reading the book, time and time again, I saw my best friend within the read.
Meaning: He had learned, and then employed certain Spiritual Principles. Every time I hit a topic that he had learned, then employed, I noted it in the margin. I was totally impressed by the way he had learned and how he used what he learned with ME.
Now, my best friend, another one of my guys, and His Girlfriend, née fiancée, have read the book too. The book has made the rounds of people, in the rooms. I have certain friends, who have had a hard time with sobriety. I bought them a copy of the book, and asked them to read it, to maybe get a handle on simple spirituality, based on the premise that we are all that we are.
That we are NOT one or the other, or a This or a That.
That we are human, and imperfect and that to embrace our humanity to embrace ALL that we are, warts and all, in a tremulous balance of Love, God and Spirituality, there can be a beginning.
Our Imperfect-ness …
There are people, FEW, people I know, who haven’t necessarily read this book, but in knowing them, this far, in my journey, THEY live and inhabit spiritual principles. I can hear it in the way they speak, in the way they work with others, and if you listen closely, you too will hear it as well.
Back in June, I had spoken at the Thursday meeting, and that was a BIG shit show. The following Tuesday, I spoke at an evening meeting, talking about Step 11. Prayer and Meditation and God. Yes, I know this topic very well, and I can talk about it till the cows come home.
I was the opening act for my very favorite woman, Miss. Joy Overload.
When she finished speaking that night, I felt something I had never realized before. I had a feeling of spiritual truth, of honesty and of spiritual principles. WHY ???
Because I had read this little Tome of a book, and I was listening with not only my mind, or my ears, I was listening to her with my heart and soul. I had learned this by reading the book. I have accepted certain spiritual axioms into my practice, therefore giving me the ability to “Experience.”
Experience is everything.
Spirituality is not a Sunday morning event. Spirituality is not a once a day prayer, or a once a night prayer. Spirituality is something that we LIVE, every day, every hour, every minute.
Spirituality is something we learn to LIVE. Every Day … Every Hour.
At this stage in my game, I’ve learned this way of life. I know what it looks like, and what it feels like. To walk near God. To live near God. To stay “On The Beam” for more of my day, than being “Off The Beam.”
The more we move Towards God, the better our life can be. Because when me move towards God, life tends to take a more spiritual tack. Learning this principle took a very long time for me.
For most of my life, in the In Between times, I thought I had to live life according to the worlds specifications. When I got sober the second time, I turned my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him, at that time in my life.
I’ve spent the better part of fifteen years perfecting my connection to the God of my understanding, by learning and inhabiting spiritual principles.
This did not come overnight, by any means.
Spiritual practice is like sobriety. You have to practice every day.
We need each other. We need each other’s stories. We need community, and the care, love and support it provides.
Together, we need to Remember, Together.
It is not good for man or woman to be alone. And we know, as my friend spoke words tonight, that together, we can do many things. And you know the axiom of “When two people get together, there I AM in their midst.”
When two drunks get together, there God is …
There is something to be said about the power the fellowship has to help each other heal those areas of life that need to be forgiven and healed. And the book does say, and we say as well, “That eventually, in a meeting, now or later, you will hear another human tell your story. The book goes on to say that “in community, when we hear our story mirrored back to us, we are forgiven and we are healed.”
The fellowship might give us a way to quit the drink, and never have to drink again, the truth is that, unless you live inside spiritual principles and come to learn and know the God of your understanding, your chances are less than average.
Because there are those too, who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. If you cannot be honest with yourself, How in God’s universe can you be honest with God ???
I have friends, they are friends, because we sit in rooms together, they might not call ME a friend, but they are … They who are just white knuckling it, who just won’t Let Go and Let God.
Tonight, my lady friend told us how to do that.
You never know when the message is going to sink in and settle where it needs to.
Which is why we keep coming back.
We stick around until the miracle happens …
Nothing guarantees one sobriety more, than intensive work with another alcoholic.
These words ring true tonight.
There is only ONE time, you get to tell your story for the very first time. Tonight, the room was packed. The crowd was fresh, many friends, and groups from other places, visiting for the month of January.
Tonight, we heard a story for the First Time.
2 years and 2 months ago, I met a young man, the same age I was, when I came in. My young man was at his First A.A. meeting in Montreal. He had visited a room in his native Venezuela many years prior. He knew the drill.
That night, as the meeting closed, I was feeling strong and confident. We spoke after the meeting, and I gave him my number and told him to call me EVERY DAY.
That first week, he called me ONCE.
The following Sunday he came to the meeting, and I asked him why he didn’t call, as he was asked. He did not want to bother me. That Sunday he resolved to call every day. For the last two years, and a couple of months, he has done as he was asked.
When you work with others, A Vision for you says that:
Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …Your Own House Must be in Order.
I believed I had something to offer, a Story. Experience, Strength and Hope.
But you never know what you have to offer, until conversations begin. Every time that phone rings, you never know what is going to come from the other end. You cannot respond with “Canned Responses.” You must rise to the challenge of whatever is asked of you. Working with others forces you to really Work Your Program.
Going to meetings, is not just Going to meetings.
One must exhaust every meeting and every human being in that meeting to its maximum benefit. I’ve spent the last fifteen years listening to people talk, in every meeting I have been to, to date.
I pride myself in knowing that, ONE, I did not do many things I watched others do. And TWO, I did not make the same decisions many others made. I was never alone. Over the years, observing my friends and listening to them, gave me opportunity to say, “I might do this, or I might do that, but I am definitely NOT doing that.”
With all that informed activity, soberly used, I am where I am. I have an entire bank of knowledge and decision-making skills. And I have used them wisely.
Sobriety is not a rush job. And sometimes progress is slow. But for my friend tonight, the pace of progress was reflected back at us tonight, in the wise and spiritual truths my friend shared with us tonight. It pays, having a cheat sheet.
He had a cheat sheet.
But that cheat sheet helped him share a message of true spiritual teaching.
A long time ago, my friend knew what he had to do. What happened was, that it took time to do the work and learn the lessons, and gain spiritual maturity to know God as he does.
We might pray for things we think we need right now. And for the most part, alcoholics believe that if they pray NOW that the payment will come NOW.
If one is not spiritually RIGHT, and learned of the process of growth and has done the appropriate work to get to a certain point, what we need won’t come, until we really need it, on God’s time-table. Knowing full well, what that gift is and how to use it wisely. If we receive answers and promises prematurely, without doing the work required TO RECEIVE, then the gift is wasted.
God does not seem to waste gifts prematurely.
I know this, because, over the years, I worked very hard at sobriety. And nothing came easily, or on my time-table. In fact, some prayers took YEARS to come to me. I needed to appreciate my petitions, and learn to know my limits.
And how to respect God’s timetable.
I had certain issues I needed to practice. Like Money, Love, Things, Relationships, a Roof over my head, and Food in the Fridge.
My life blossomed in year two. BUT, God held back for a long time, until I learned how to do One thing well, not necessarily perfect. But one thing at a time.
In the meantime, my needs were met. I had all the right people, in all the right places, at all the right times.
Only in year 13 did things change drastically, Positively.
Knowing my friend came in at the same age I did, with practically the same issues I had, I kind of knew the drill. And I have been cautious with my advice, always tempering my words, with the appropriate work that is required of him and of myself.
And that caution paid off.
Because my friend is wise, at this stage of the game. He knows who he is. And he respects God and God’s Wisdom. True spiritual growth is the point of getting sober.
Sadly … Many folks don’t get it, won’t listen to advice, nor have the will to do the work required to be really, spiritually, fit.
I may be spiritual, but if I don’t maintain that spirituality daily, I am useless.
I must rise to the challenge and become as spiritual as I can, and whatever work we need to do to get there is what we will do. And we employ reading, studying, praying, meetings, listening, discussing, and then acting.
The Spirituality of Imperfection was a game changing book.
Rafa read it, and gave it to me. I read it and gave it to my friend. He read it and gave it to his girlfriend to read.
Along with the basic text of the Big Book, we have this small tome to study as well, as the book is all about Alcoholics Anonymous. From a Spiritual direction.
A handful of people, I know, read this book. I was among them in the Summer of 2016.
Spirituality is a time necessary endeavor. And all we have is time. And for each soul, in the program, all we do is count time. But it is in between those points on the timeline, that growth takes place. It does not come overnight.
It was an amazing night. I am so proud of my friend. The room was electrified tonight, and the people were truly grateful for the message shared.
He knocked it out of the Park.
TO BE ANGRY IS EASY
BUT BE ANGRY AT THE RIGHT MAN
AT THE RIGHT TIME
FOR THE RIGHT REASON