Gazing Through A Window of Gratitude

“as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” – King Solomon

We in recovery know: “there is no room for anger or resentment in a grateful heart.” This mental posture of recognizing and inventorying the grace; the good fortune and blessings in our lives brings a more positive focus, one that diminishes those darker spiritual senses.

Just as we perceive the world through our five physical filters: taste, touch, sound, sight and smell, we experience our spiritual life through five emotional, ethereal senses: fear, anger, joy, sadness and surprise. Do you suppose that three of these are negative and two are positive filters? What if I were to say that there are productive levels of all of them?

We chronic alcoholics are advised in our fellowship’s primary literature: resentments and their predecessors – fear and it’s reactive state, anger – these are the most common causes of relapse.  At this phase of my development, that makes sense to me. These volatile emotional states can mushroom into an overwhelming desire to escape the immense spiritual tension they bring and the technique most often misconceived as the easiest, quickest route to relief is through numbing the senses with alcohol and/or a combination of drugs. Or is there another way – how about taking a moment to see life through a window of gratitude? It’s a bit like replacement therapy, a skill that requires practice, repetition and reinforcement, ( three elements of reaching tangible results).

I do it through using my “Gratitude List” – what I have to be thankful for – a running inventory of my blessings. Beginning with the simple gifts of life and health, food, clothing and shelter, the presence of love and my sobriety, I then move on to the people, places and things, the situations and circumstances that are blessings in my world. When I recognize them making this effort, it nearly always negates my mind’s focus on fear, anger and resentment. Yes – it takes an effort, but one for which I am thankful. It was given to me by my little-old-red-haired sage sponsor with 33 years of continuous recovery.

If Mae hadn’t shown me this basic technique of positive reinforcement, I might’ve gotten to a spot where my perceived need to escape would have overcome my gratitude, blurring the clear window of thankfulness that can bring me to the state of honest humility I seek: “knowing who and what I am, as well as what I can be if I apply these principles to all my life’s situations.”

Try it. In an old movie, “Going My Way” – Bing Crosby – in his character, Fr. O’Malley sang it in a song: “Counting My Blessings.”He used it to go to sleep, (not a bad idea) – but I use it to maintain my sanity and stay sober.

Thankful for you all,

Arthur

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book**** http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V0CHY2

Prayer Brings Us A Sense Of Belonging

Here then my reader friends, is today’s essay – right out of the book for November 21st. I send it from my office solarium, while gazing up at the sky’s new falling snow. Tomorrow -3 degrees.
Arthur

As prayer and meditation come to be our regular practice, their reward is found in our new sense of belonging. The aura of frequent fright and lack of purpose that cloaked our consciousness can be brought to a halt by the practice of these spiritual exercises, as they are able to relieve the feeling we are living in an often hostile world.
Moments will come when we realize God’s will brings us truth,
justice, and love, the real and lasting aspects of our new lives. We’ll
discover we are no longer held hostage by those frequent feelings of emotional disturbance.
Once we were conscious of a prevailing sense of loneliness, appearing to surround us amidst all our human affairs. Now we can begin to see the beauty and freedom that a God-directed life can bring, becoming both our way and our rescue in times of peril.
Feeling a part of God’s universe, we’ll know God lovingly watches
over us. This fortifies our faith. When we turn to Him, all will be
well with us in time, for we become convinced that we belong with
a Higher Power, guiding us here and now as well as in the hereafter.
Meditation can transport us to an environment of spirituality, as we imagine a place that allows us tranquility and deep concentration. Our prayers may follow in the words of favorite devotions or spontaneous conversation. Both will improve our conscious contact, the sense of belonging inside of that which we call God.

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book**** http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html which is also available at Amazon KINDLE: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V0CHY2

Moving The Rock

Friends in recovery,

I came across this little fable on a new group I belong to posted by one of the members. I have edited it to meet our common beliefs in the Twelve Step Fellowships of recovery, hoping that it will fill your hearts with courage strength and comfort. We are only alone if we so chose.

______________________________

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and then showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. God explained that the man was to Push against the rock with all his might.

So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might! Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, Feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was feeling discouragement, his adversarial self  decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into his weary mind. “It’ll do it every time, huh”?

“You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn’t moved a bit,” he thought. Thus, he gave himself the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. He thought, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.” That’s what the weary man planned to do, but first decided to make it a matter of prayer taking his troubled thoughts to his God. “Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I havn’t budged that rock a single bit. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

His God responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back shiny and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push, exercising your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I,…My friend,…. will move the rock.”

At times, when we sense a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him.

By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that still: “It is God who moves the mountains, for of myself I am nothing – the father doeth the works.”

When everything seems to go wrong.

Just P.U.S.H.

When the job gets you down.

Just P.U.S.H.

When people don’t do as you think they should.

Just P.U.S.H.

When your money is gone and the bills are due.

Just P.U.S.H.

When people just don’t understand you.

Just P.U.S.H.

P = Pray

U = Until

S = Something

H = Happens

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
______________________________

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book**** http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V0CHY2

Meanderings Over “The Message”

Think about it for a second – what’s this illusive content, this theme, the essence that we in recovery call: “The Message”?

If you go to Amazon.com today and enter addiction, alcoholism over-eating or gambling, you’ll out a list of titles as long as a novel. Yet, there has to be  some common denominator – an underlying factor – even in consideration of all of the disciplines and tributaries within that help us try to decipher: “the message.”

With the Christmas Season on the verge, (commercially it arrived at Halloween – “I know” – the mixed message of the season of giving and scaring,……..) I’m reminded of a famous parallel to our message occurring in the form of a Christmas fable – told as a story – they always have a moral lesson; a comparable teaching that assists our search for an illusive understanding,… “the message.”

When Jacob Marley rattles in, (Ebineezer’s Ghost of Christmas Past) clattering his chains of greed, selfishness and complete lack of compassion for his fellow man amidst woeful remorse, he moans his warning to Ebineezer Scrooge: “you await the same fate if you doesn’t change” (‘aye, that he dozzzz….’a host of sightless supporting spirits groan).

Thus, the scene relays a primary part of “the message”: our program of reflection, awareness and inventory can set the stage for we: the hopelessly addicted —- to “change” (‘we  sees it as a fundamental aspect of “the Message”, we duzzz…. sez I in ghostly imitation’!)

The message we carry might well be the honest sharing of our Experience and Hopes with another,… that they too might find a way to be free from the slavery and chains of “bondage to their selvezzzz,….” (Okay – enough of the Dickens dialecting).

The Message is possibly: “what price, our freedom from addictions”; those being our somewhat self-imposed prisons of physiological dependence and spiritual toxicity and its release found in complete abstinence, cast in the continual search for our spirit’s emotional balance. It’s located in the displacement of our powerlessness over substance tyranny and our “out of control selves”, placing them in the powerful care of some force we find in our hearts and fellowships, their literature and its practice.

This morning, I went to a meeting where a brand new member  well into his 60’s  announced – in that choking voice so often followed by a moment of silence, that — he sought recovery. There and then softly arose from the group that spiritual energy which emanates from the gathering of 25 or so men and women in their common search for recovery; that energy we call the message,….. found within us all. It fills our hearts with courage, hope and Universal Love: the “genuine concern for the common welfare of all.” This message becomes spiritually clear in our feelings, the message commonly sensed without the use of words.

Just as Tiny Tim  said: “God Bless Us, Every One, however we should find such a force.

There – those are some of my present thoughts on the message: Sober is better than drunk and clean is better than dirty – plug-in the phrase for your own affliction.,….if not booze. The essence of the message is what affect releases its ghostly grip….. and as most of you, I continue to seek it.

Spiritual Contentment in recovery is my wish for all,

Arthur

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book**** http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V0CHY2

An Excerpt On Prayer and Meditation

Here’s an excerpt from the book on this month’s Step: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.”

November 6

Our Experiment Led Us to the Faith That Works

Some of us had strong logic that “proved” there was no God. We
brought up examples of accidents, sickness, cruelty, and injustice in
the world as evidence. All those unhappy lives and birth defects, all
due to unfortunate and uncontrollable circumstances made us ask:
“How could there be a God in this scheme of things?”

Science has sufficiently proved that the universe had a “first cause”
or a “Big Bang” of some sort; however, was it certain there was any
evidence of a God who knew or cared about human beings? And, yes, we liked A.A. and would admit there were cases of apparent sobriety made possible by miracles, but we resisted prayer and meditation like the scientist who refused an experiment fearing it would counter his pet theory.

Finally, out of desperation we experimented and when unexpected
results followed, we felt different, in fact we knew different. We came to be sold on prayer and meditation, which brought us to the faith that works. Anyone who gave it a try could have results, we found. For those who have come to the point where they could humble themselves enough, they found that experiments with prayer and meditation led them to the faith that works.

I understand that President Abraham Lincoln was known to have said when asked the question: “Sir, why do you pray”? His reply was: ‘because I have nowhere else to go.”

I know how this feels. How about you?

Peace and Contented Sobriety is my wish for all,

Arthur

Pleadings & Proceedings: The Sixth Tradition-

“An A.A. Group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.”

Now we all know that the Traditions aren’t laws, treating them as such would be contradictory to their very nature. Textbook definition of the word Tradition is: “the handing down of statements, beliefs, customs and practices from generation to generation”.

I like the synonym customs, because it suggests a way of commonly accepted, agreed upon practices of behavior or attitudes. But unless you use ancient historical definitions, the word LAW does not apply.

Therefore, in A.A., you could say that as the Group Conscience is the ultimate decider of action over any given situation for the group, (Yet it is considered delegated to G.S.O. – what’s up with that?) the definition is situational.

Once again, the confusing complication of “spin” from four generations of members can lead one to mispercieve that situations are left for interpretation to one’s own interpreted ends, though that is not the intended practice. Once again: like spinning scripture to meet a pre-desired application without regard to principle.

Now take my case if you will, (and that’s why I’m blogging to you). Is the introduction of a book – a classic revival of the 12 Steps and Traditions, written with scant variance from the original format and principles – in any stretch of the imagination an “outside enterprise” of A.A.? Why does the use of the phrase  “outside interest” pop-up as if it were part of the tradition? When it is introduced – by the book – reviewed by G.S.O. and submitted to the fellowship for Group Conscience Scrutiny does that in any sense of the word make it an outside interest?

Even when you read the Long Form of the Traditions in the main text: Alcoholics Anonymous, this tradition has to do with money, property and prestige as it relates to hospitals, educational facilities social clubs and alcohol reform.  From the 12×12, The tests are:

1) Facilty & Enterprise – such as a hospital, club, educational institution. A book is NOT a facility.

2) Endorsement: signing-off like a sponsor. That certainly does not occur with this book, though proper credit is paid for inspiration and principle obtained from AAWS literature.

3) Lending of the A.A. Name: I do not borrow the Registered Trade Mark of Alcoholic’s Anonymous  as in an endorsement to facility or OUTSIDE enterprise. First this book is not an outside enterprise; it seeks Conference Approval and is presently undergoing that process, yet under consideration.

Those arguments seem logical deductions, but just to be sure lets broaden the terms. My book was written to carry the message of recovery to all those afflicted with alcoholism and addictions. While it’s true that A.A.  was originator of these principles – our 12 steps and traditions – they have lent them to as many as 50 other support fellowships, in a decent charitable manner of the fellowship’s humility.

This book is not an outside enterprise. It was written by a member, for members (as well as others) in the interest of carrying the message. It is not a purely a money making proposition that seeks to glean the A.A. Fellowship’s endorsement or have it lend its name – that is – unless the group conscience should so approve, after the lengthy process and transfer of rights to AAWS. All of which, as we know is an “iffy” possibility at best and a quest of years otherwise.

Yet sadly I report, the response I have received from local members and service representatives, speaking for the good of the fellowship but superseding the group conscience like bleeding deacons, has prohibited me from even humbly garnering attraction at our annual event: The Gratitude Banquet. It has kept me from placing even the minimal signage, brochures or cards at the Central Office, under the ridiculous and narrow-minded opinion that it violates this Sixth Tradition as an “outside interest.” It even prevents me this far, from making announcements at the end of meetings without enduring some irrational fear based criticisms, in the implication as if I were acting in ulterior, underhanded motives.

I will not be deterred. I will proceed to plead my situation, for there are those who see the value of the work and realize that in both “Big Books” it says: “The laborer is worth his hire.”

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book**** http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V0CHY2