Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The reading in For Today starts with a quote from Epictetus. Wikipedia describes him as probably a slave born in what's not Turkey, lived in Rome until exile to the northwest of Greece where he lived most of his life in the first and second centuries. He's said to have believed "To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, human beings have a duty of care to all fellow humans. The person who followed these precepts would achieve happiness." The quote that caught my attention falls in line with that, but it still pulls me more than the rest of what I've read:
It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows. (Epictetus)
That was my hang-up as to religion/spirituality to some extent, but it was one that once I finally got to OA was quickly overcome. I find it true now as to OA itself. I do understand OA, the principles, the literature, the Steps, the lifestyle. But I got careless, became content with the level of recovery I'd reached. Now that I realize I walked away from the real mother lode, or at lease declined to "pick up the egg," I find my self living the truth of the statement. But there is a way. It's the one Bill W. was struggling with in the early '50s.
Influenced by the events surrounding him, Bill Wilson began and ended his portrayal of A.A.'s Twelve Steps as "a way of life" by stressing the continued necessity of the total deflation of even a raised bottom" and the persistence in even the "recovering alcoholic" of childishness, immature grandiosity, and infantile defiance. Between these themes and derived from them, Wilson located an ancient motif. The key to the A.A. Way of Life was -- simply -- "humility."
Humility. The key to the A.A. program, "the step that separates the men from the boys," was presented -- perhaps surprisingly -- as Step Six: "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." The point was not that only can "I" not directly achieve this removal, but even before an-Other-can, "my" main "activity" can be only the apparently most passive one of readiness, openness. Wilson's explicit exploration of the meaning of humility bracketed his indirect treatment of it in the Sixth Step. Although "often misunderstood, ... genuine humility" was presented simply and classically in Step "realism ..., straight thinking, solid honesty." Especially as "first ... consist[ing] of recognizing our deficiencies," "actual humility" eased the "old pains of ancient apartness." Thus Step Five which exemplified it "was the beginning of true kinship with man and God." (Ernest Kurtz, Not God, page 124)
Like Micah said, even before Epictetus, what does the law required of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I'm ready to change myself and lose the bounds.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
I woke this morning to a recovery speaker saying he'd memorized the Third Step prayer wrong, that he was using "Thy love, Thy power, and Thy way of life." When "corrected" as the rest of the group said the prayer, he realized his need to put the love first, for the assurance inherent in the love.
Before getting out of bed I prayed the Third Step, Fourth Step ("we ask him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be"), Seventh Step, and Eleventh Step ("praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.") I knew then I needed to meditate, and I scanned my brain for a verse to meditate on, and the answer was immediate. "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I realized the yoke's easy, but it is a yoke. It's a frame designed to be carried across a person's shoulders with equal loads suspended from each end. We don't see yokes around here, but I certainly have seen them traveling. In Nicaragua I took a picture not of a yoke, but of a man-powered transport. A yoke is a yoke. It's an impediment. It's a burden. Abstinence, abstaining from other obsessions, doing the next right thing -- is a burden. Yes, it's an easy burden. Yes, it's light. It's even joyful and freeing, but it's a burden, and when my rebellious self insists "This program's supposed to be easy. I don't have to work at it," I know that's hogwash. I have to surrender to God's will, let him direct me, and to enjoy the company as I bear the burden. And thrill in the destination.
Day two, no games, eating on the food plan only. It's a yoke and a burden, but lighter than it was yesterday, heavier than it will be tomorrow. I'm assured of the love as well as the power and the ability for God to direct me to live life his way!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Beaten PathSome paths hold your feet,move them along on earthworn smooth, comfortable,familiar your first visit.The path of least resistance,straying takes effort.Some trails hint the path,hard to detect, difficult to track,though heart-felt right,chosen carefully. Stayingtakes effort, but once donefor long enough may yieldthe right, well-beaten, path.