my truth, your truth?

 

CANDLE

Composing thoughts and words into a train of rational ideas in a civil manner should not be difficult.  But it often is.  Blurting out insults and hurtful rhetoric seems to be the acceptable means of communication in society, especially American society.  Tweeting has usurped conversation as the American way of communicating.  Just as civility and decorum have been relegated to the days of Emily Post and her book of social etiquette,  ideals such as “compassion” and “compromise” are unfashionable.

Public conversations that would have shamed and assaulted our grandparents’ sense of  decency now are the norm.  So much disturbing visual and auditory material presenting itself as entertainment has been televised and telecast that it no longer is shocking or disgusting.  The evolution of humanity’s civilities, which had spanned a millennia of generations to a heightened awareness of solidarity, appears to have hit full speed reverse returning us to times of insensitive brutality and barbarism.

In these times a reliance on inner truth is essential to peaceful coexistence within the brotherhood of mankind.  Humanity is blessed with a code of moral and civil conduct which is universal.  It is not dependent on any particular religion or philosophy because it is an inherent part of each person’s DNA.  Call it conscience if you like or name it the spark of divinity within.  The faith of Judaism defines this code perfectly with its Decalogue, the Ten Commandments in the book of Exodus.

In today’s society we are pummeled with “alternate facts”, a difficult concept to comprehend.  Does this mean that there is alternate truth?  Does this mean a man is able to support any action, any behavior, any speech because he supports an alternate truth?  What a revelation!  I can now be as despicable and perverse as my nature dictates because I follow an alternative truth.

Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, Stalin, Jeffrey Dahmer, Manson, the Marquis de Sade would be poster boys for alternate truth.  Some politicians of today would be examples.  No!  There is no alternative truth.  Truth is truth and it is recognized by the edicts of conscience.  Some of today’s world powers, many of whom control finances and government, have apparently blinded their collective conscience in pursuit of dominance and control.  In the end they will be known (proven) by their fruits.

An interesting verse of Christian literature, Matthew 7:6, states that followers should not ‘cast their pearls before the swine.’  The pearls are the truth which Christians name as the Gospel, an ethic which messengers of all relevant faith walks have presented to humanity.  It is freely available, but it requires an inward journey and an outward expression of compassion to peacefully co-exist with a world run amok.  Matthew 7:6 seems to contradict the evangelical command to preach to all the world the Good News, but when the Christian Gospel is seen as Christ within, then it is sensible teaching.  That which will not be understood by those who prefer not to understand should not be held open to the unbelievers’ scorn, ridicule, and attack.  That which is cherished within should be protected.  The life I lead, the demeanor which I present to the world will reflect my inner truth, but, ultimately it is personal, it is private, and it is transforming.  When the powers of worldly institutions refuse to understand and incorporate universal truths, then, as Matthew 10:14 advises, “Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet…..”

speaking truth

 

 

Hemingway

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“I wish I had a stone for the knife,” the old man said after he had checked the lashing on the oar butt.  “I should have brought a stone.”  You should have many things, he thought.  But you did not bring them, old man.  Now is no time to think of what you do not have.  Think of what you can do with what you do have.

Ernest Hemingway THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA

Hemingway’s story of the old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, pits an old man’s grit and determination against the wiles of an 18 foot marlin which he has hooked. It details the battle each wages to survive.  The trophy fish is finally defeated and slain by the weathered old fisherman, but the pride of victory is short-lived as sharks, drawn by the marlin’s blood, soon attack the carcass strapped to the side of Santiago’s skiff.  By the time fisherman and boat reach home shores, the skeleton and head are all that remain of his capture.  Not only has he lost his prize, he also seems to regret that a creature of grace and beauty which he greatly admired has been destroyed.  Santiago ultimately validates his action as a “kill or be killed” battle with the great fish.  But, in reality he simply could have cut the line thus releasing the catch.  But, in his world, that sign of weakness, that compromise allowing man and fish to live for another day, is not an option.

I sometimes believe that I live in Santiago’s world.  My identity, my worth is too often dependent on being the victor incapable of compromise.   Just as the wizened old man in his skiff on the deep waters, in the desperate moments of life I often wish for that which I don’t have forgetting to appreciate and utilize that which I do have.

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emotional hangovers

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”orange tree

Most of us had created in the previous life as drunkards our own private drama clubs naming ourselves as President, Vice-President and every other club officer necessary to carry on our business of drama.  Additionally, we were the most vocal subscribing member.  The meetings were exhausting with inner dialogs that covered every aspect of anger, resentment, disappointment, and insecurity simmering in vehement self-righteousness.  Only our hangovers from drinking were more devastating and debilitating.

Are you still a member of your club today?  Am I?  How often do we spend our sober days reeling with “brain fog” as a result of a dalliance in our drama club?  It’s easy to do, but fortunately we now have the tools to immediately withdraw from participation if so desired.  And that’s the key, although sometimes we prefer to wallow in whatever satisfaction is derived from being overly dramatic and engaged in club activity.

“When a drunk has a terrific hangover because he drank heavily yesterday, he can not live well today.  But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether we are drinking or not.  That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion – anger, fear, jealousy, and the like.”  Bill Wilson, AS BILL SEES IT, pg 48

Using our crutches in these times of emotional discord is not a weakness.  With a physical impairment such as a broken leg, crutches are meant to provide stability as we walk.  That uncomfortable cast keeps the leg aligned properly as it heals.  It’s the same in recovery from alcoholism.  The prayers, verses and sayings are meant to give us emotional support as we ambulate through the difficult times healing from the brokenness of our lives.

Sometimes the crutch we dismiss most is the fellow alcoholic whose phone number we have but don’t want to call.  Maybe it’s our sponsor who feels honored to have you as a “pigeon”, but we don’t want to be a bother or we don’t want to admit that we are hurting and needy of help.  Whatever the reasons are, the end result is a day spent miserably, or worse, a relapse into drinking.

For us, those forays into unnecessary drama can be a matter of life or death.  It need not happen.  We must gird ourselves with the tools of our program, surround ourselves with sober people, and meditate within our private space.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”  STEP 11, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

“Oh, I can’t do that,” we said, “I don’t know how to meditate.”

Being the alcoholic that I am, I researched meditation and determined I would do meditation perfectly.  My first attempt at sitting on the floor cross-legged in lotus position promptly reminded me that my body did not understand the reason for such discomfort, much less did my brain associate this pain with a practice to discover inner awareness.

Just as I found my path to meditative discovery,  others have also.  I have learned that there are no rules or proper positions.  It is the ongoing practice of feeling connected to a Universal source, learning who we are in that realm, and finding peace within the Higher Power of our understanding that we are seeking in meditation.  When we are able to allow and then dismiss passing thoughts, positive or negative, and return to contemplation and inner searching,  we are accomplishing a serenity that was impossible during our drama club days.

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SOBER TODAY – sainthood

NAMASTE“We are not saints.  The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.  The principles we have set down are guides to spiritual progress.  We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, pg 60

 

Affectionately known as THE BIG BOOK, the handbook for Alcoholics Anonymous refutes the belief that life has to be perfect, especially the spiritual life.  Most normal people learn this as an aspect of maturation, but,  for those of us who are not normal and have spent a great deal of time doing field research chasing the many dead ends of substance addictions, this can be a most difficult thing to accept about ourselves.

Upon achieving a few days or weeks or months of sober-living, we wanted to do everything perfectly.  It’s as if we were trying to catch up on time lost doing what came most naturally to us, drinking and drugging.  We tried to immediately resume our positions within the family and community.  We strived to be our employer’s best employee.  We wanted to grasp with utmost urgency the faith which had always eluded us before.  That’s who we were in early sobriety and can still be today.  “I want it and I want it now.”

“We are not saints,” sponsors would remind us when the brokenness we had created for ourselves overshadowed our attempts to be perfect. We launched into days of despair and depression over our shortcomings forgetting the wisdom, “We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.”

It’s not easy to practice “EASY DOES IT” as the signs on meeting room walls advise.  It’s not easy to live “ONE DAY AT A TIME”.  When we are told to “LET GO AND LET GOD” our natural instinct is to give God only that which causes us turmoil rather than every moment of every day.  It is not easy becoming a spiritual instrument which our Higher Power can use to serve the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and then, progressively,  greater humanity outside the rooms of AA.

This devotion to sober-living becomes our spiritual calling in life leading to an acceptance that we will never graduate to receive a diploma or attain sainthood.  We can only aspire and in that aspiration turn our will over every day to the One who saves the wretched and covers with grace their imperfection.  That is the spiritual awakening promised by following the steps of recovery programs such as AA and CR.

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