Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What to do with umbrage

After stumbling around for about ten days, I'd put two back-to-back abstinent days together when I went to bed last night. I got up, packed, and prepared for a night away from home. Fortunately I'm taking an OA member with me, not going for OA purposes, but my friend will be there and abstinence on the trip will be easy. But husband is not happy that I'm going, considers it for "cult" purposes. I told him it was not OA, it was another international organization where I hold a leadership position in my area. Still, the anxieties accompanied me away from home this morning. And my hand sought out change in the console to stop at a donut shop. I set it down, thought of the OA member who might call me with her food for the day while I was stuffing in the old comfort food. "Comfort" food that would bring me discomfort, guilt, remorse, and shame. So, I made it to the office, abstinent, I sit here abstinent, and I'll be abstinent tonight when I report to my food buddy.

I went to another meeting of the other organization last night. They post a word everybody is supposed to use during the course of the meeting. The world last night was "umbrage." I used it last night by telling them I had realized during the course of the meeting that the word is virtually always used with "take." Nobody gives umbrage, shares umbrage, borrows umbrage, assigns umbrage. It's a lot like resentment. It's all our doing, and peace and tranquility, as well as the lack of umbrage and resentment, is up to us under the wing of our higher power. Thank God!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Loving God

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind." This is the first Commandment.

The problem is, how to love God? We are only too conscious of the hardness of our hearts, and in spite of all that religious writers tell us about feeling not being necessary, we do want to feel and so know that we love God.

"Thou wouldst not seek Him if thou hadst not already found Him," Pascal says, and it is true too that you love God if you want to love Him. One of the disconcerting facts about the spiritual life is that God takes you at your word. Sooner or later one is given a chance to prove his love. The very word "diligo," the Latin word used for "love," means "I prefer." (Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, 138-139)

I was 22, maybe 23. It was the time of a phenomenon called The Lay Witness Mission, and we were in the midst of one of them in my church. While I would discuss theology ad nauseum with the proponents of that movement right now -- or at least I would have before OA -- I recall and ponder, believing, what one woman said. I'd said their ritual prayer, and she asked if I was changed. I said I didn't feel anything, and she said I was, because of the prayer -- that I had asked and therefore had changed. 

Yeah. That's God. Sometimes he sends feelings, but they're not necessary. Step 2 does not say we came to feel but that we came to believe. The second appendix to the Big Book addresses that.
Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the "educational variety" because they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self-discipline. With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a power greater than themselves. (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th edition, 567-568)

I saw someone yesterday. In normal circumstances I would have known I was supposed to know her but because of my difficulty in remembering names would not have known who she was. In that place at an event honoring the friend who introduced us to each other, I knew. And I knew she didn't know me. I have a picture of myself one night she was in my house, March 2, 1999. There was about a hundred more pounds of me then. I reintroduced myself to her, and she was astonished. We can know people right by us and not know it. We can know God right by us and within us without recognizing him. But he's just as much there, just as dear. And we love him without knowing we do. Thank God!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Spiritual Awakening" defined

A spiritual awakening soon came to mean trying each day to be a little more thoughtful, more considerate, a little more courteous to those with whom I came in contact. - Alcoholics Anonymous (4th Edition), page 356 

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." - Matthew 22:36-50 (NIV)

Jesus' disciples asked him to teach them to pray. They'd been LIVING with him for a while by then. Why did they need a lesson in prayer? Even if they didn't pray TO him, couldn't they have absorbed it? So that gives me a good excuse for not getting hold of this prayer/meditation stuff, right? Excuse is not the operative word, not the correct word. How about rewriting that sentence to, "So, that provides insight into shared insecurities, shared distress over this form of communication, right?" 

In prayer, only one of the two of us has to be perfect, and like a truly great individual, the one who is doesn't need to flaunt it, nor does he make me feel inadequate. I do that all by myself, and it hurts him and it hurts me and it accomplishes nothing put putting a block between me and him. We get to a spiritual awakening by the time we really work the steps. It's an implied promise, "Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of the result of these Steps...." It's not my obligation to have it, to make it happen. It's my obligation to let it happen and get out of the way. Help me do it, God!