PEACE ON EARTH?

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

Is the idea of peace on earth overrated?  Probably so.  By nature man is not an agreeable sort of creature.  Man would sooner throw a few rocks and ask questions afterwards than engage in rational dialog first.  History tells us that man, having never learned to compromise, has resorted instead to heavy clubs, then swords, then artillery, then nuclear weapons that can annihilate every species on earth and it’s habitat.

Mankind seems to be the only creature on earth that does not fit into the natural scheme of flora and fauna.  Plant and animal lifeforms all intuitively know how to grow together, live together, and in many instances compliment the existence of one another.  They do not wantonly kill because of philosophical differences or uncontrolled passions.

No, man is probably not held in high esteem by the world’s other creatures.  Oh sure, that pet dog or cat loves you unconditionally, but stop putting out food for Rover or stop cleaning Fifi’s cat box and it’s just a matter of time before that dog will turn on you snapping at your heels or the feline poop producer will be crapping on your favorite chair.  Don’t kid yourselves.  Man is low on the totem pole of earthly inhabitants.  He does not fit in and the rest of nature knows it.

In order to compensate, a complex system of theologies has been created proclaiming mankind as the master of all species, of all resources on earth in order to justify our existence.  And then theology goes on to say that when our habitat has been trashed and destroyed, miraculously a savior will appear to clean up the mess we have made.  Believe that if you must, but consider this.  The nugget of truth in those earth-renewal philosophies is that mankind can be redeemed through an inner awakening, a fact-finding soul search that reveals our spiritual relevance in a crazy, chaotic world system.  Many mystics have understood this, Francis and Clare of Assisi knew, Jesus the pauper from Nazareth recognized that each individual has within himself or herself the capacity to live in peace with himself, with humanity, with the earth itself.

I love the question following THE BIG BOOK’s (Alcoholics Anonymous) revelation of promises available through sober living. AA PROMISESAre these extravagant promises?  We think not.”

Is this an extravagant promise?  Peace on earth?  The Christian scriptures guarantee it.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27

We could rightfully say, “Bah humbug”, considering the turmoil and corruption which is rampant worldwide.  We will continue on our road to destruction and annihilation when we forget that Jesus, in the words of John 14, qualifies his peace: “Not as the world giveth…”

I am chasing down the wrong trail when I envision a peaceful world as one with no wars, no famines, no oppression.  What will save me from the surrounding darkness, from a troubled and fearful heart, is only available within.  Quite possibly that is the peace on earth, goodwill toward men, that the book of Luke attributes to the angels singing to the shepherds watching their flocks.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Luke 2:14

It is an inside job.  When we feed and nourish the soul through introspection, contemplation and meditation, when we read scriptures revealed by the wisdom of the ancients, then we can dwell in our world of peace and then we can extend that peace to all mankind.

Peace to you.  Namaste.  The Christmas season is a great time to discover a peaceful and fearless heart as proclaimed by Jesus the Christ, Buddha, Muhammad and other messengers of the ancient world.  All of them claim a piece to the God puzzle.

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where’s my strength?

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

What gives you strength?  Is it financial security, power, fame, friendships, family, faith?  In my conflicted life, it was alcohol.  For 17 years I relied on the demons of alcohol and related addictions to give me a sense of security and self-worth.  I was strong and fearless facing the challenges of life which most of my family and friends confronted stone-cold sober.  I never understood them.  Why didn’t they need the same crutches which I used?

As I approach 38 years of sobriety, I still ask myself, “What makes me strong?”

The lyrics from the SIDEWALK PROPHETS answers that question.  “Be strong in the Lord.”  My strength lies in practicing simple, spiritual principles in my lifestyle guided by faith in the promises presented by the fellowship of other recovering alcoholics.

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”  Alcoholics Anonymous BIG BOOK

Therein is the nugget of truth which frees alcoholics like me.  The realization of the promises hinge on putting my faith, finding my strength in the One whom I name Lord of my life.  Total surrender.  The gift of sobriety, something which eluded me several years even as a non-drinker, was not a matter of exerting personal will power,  reading self-help books, following a rigorous jogging routine, listening to preachers and evangelists.  No, sobriety happened slowly after a difficult period of ‘not drinking’ and working with others.

The passage from the Big Book goes on to ask if these are extravagant promises.  We answer, “We think not,” because we have seen them materialize when we have been willing to work for them.  “Work, work, work.”

Another favorite of AAers is a verse from the book of James in Christian scriptures which tells us that “faith without works is dead.”  Answers to my questions began to appear when God put those words in perspective.  Yes, the good works are necessary.  But, the foundation must be faith.  I must be strong in the Lord of my understanding.  That strength will carry me through times of travail, times of doubt and questioning, times when other sufferers disappoint me.  The works keep me busy and out of trouble; the faith gives me reason to continue.  How about you? 🙏

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walk by faith

I had an opportunity to visit with my pastor yesterday morning.  The conversation was casual, centering on a number of concerns regarding theology.  I refer to myself as the “doubting Thomas” syndrome.  If I can’t see the nail holes and the wound in the side, I tend not to believe.  Maybe that’s why people sometimes see me as cynical and wishy-washy.  I need proof before I get off the fence to make a commitment.  In some areas of secular life this is a good thing, but in my faith walk it is not always the best path.  CANDLE

I invariably reach a point when the way forward is a confident step into the world of faith in that which is mysterious and unknown.  Given the evidence which life has accumulated for me proving that God exists and that Jesus loves me, that step should not be as difficult as it sometimes is.   My miraculous ongoing recovery from alcoholism is one such piece of the evidence that a Higher Power has the answers to all questions and the grace to lead me to green pastures and still waters.

The PROMISES of the Alcoholics Anonymous program are no longer extravagant dreams; they are happening in my life and in the lives of others in the fellowship.  I am in dire financial straits according to the norms of society, yet I don’t fear the future.  I am an introvert by nature yet find myself comfortable in a room full of people even to the point of speaking to the group.  Today I follow a God who is doing for me what I could not do for myself.  In the beginning these were indeed nothing more than extravagant promises which required an enormous amount of faith in what was unknown.  But, they were proven occurrences in my fellow AAers; I walked with them holding a faith that I also was worthy of these promises.

So it should be with my church affiliation.  The promise that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, that when I seek then I shall also find, that when I knock then the door shall be opened, that the Lord will give rest to my weary and burdened soul is a promise which I embrace with faith.  With faith as small as a mustard seed mountains can be moved.

“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” Matthew 17:20

It’s not rocket science, doesn’t require an impressive intelligence to realize that walking by faith in that which is a mystery, that loving a God which is unseen, that following a Jesus who was crucified cannot be measured by the world’s standards.  The things of this world repeatedly have disappointed and caused pain and will continue to do so.  Therefore, why follow the world when a mustard seed of faith will deliver unfathomable joy and peace?  It’s one of the best investments I could possibly make.

In the end, if I have been wrong, if my faith is erroneously placed, if eternity with Jesus is not awaiting, if my final breath is indeed the last of me….no one will know the difference, least of all me.  But, I will have spent this life living joyously in peace and absolute awe of a power greater than myself.smiley 3 Namaste.

 

sobriety’s promises

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1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84
Reprinted from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

When a volunteer reader recites the promises of Alcoholics Anonymous and reaches the last sentence, “They will always materialize if we work for them,” the group often responds with, “work, work, work.”

Therein is the secret to a successful recovery: work, work, work.  For us to undertake the work of the AA program with courage, determination, and dedication is  beyond anything we have previously attempted.  It is a life-changing, challenging endeavor which requires total commitment.  “Half measures availed us nothing.”

There are no compromises.  The promises listed above are realized when we are willing to say yes to a Higher Power, when we are willing to listen to long-term sobriety speaking, when we are willing to work our butts off to reach a state of clean and serene.   It works if we work it.  Alcoholics Anonymous is a very simple program to understand, but, for most of us, it is the most difficult  thing we have ever done.

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THE AA PROMISES

Many of us who have based our sobriety on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous came to the meeting rooms with severe doubts about a program which told us to give up the control factor in our lives and turn it over to an entity named God.  We had heard too much about this God as youngsters in the clutches of God-fearing parents and hell-preaching clergy.  We, for the most part, gave up entirely on the concept of a God.  Our mantra to parents and clergy alike was “If you’re going to heaven then I sure as hell don’t want to be there.”

Thereby we resigned ourselves to a life without god in the grips of alcoholism.  We drank our selves into oblivion whenever we could and suffered through endless hours of non-drinking when  our first love in life was unavailable.  Some of us maintained a semblance of normalcy for a while, but in the end there was nothing normal about the way we lived.  Self-loathing, lying, infidelity, cheating, suicide attempts, and broken promises finally crashed us to the depths of our personal hells.

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And then, a helping hand reached out and suggested an AA meeting.

“Are you crazy,” we asked sarcastically.

“Maybe, but, I’m sober,” was the helping hand’s reply.  “And you can be sober, too.”

For the first time in many years we saw hope, a sparkle in our friend’s eyes that encouraged us to think,  “Maybe this sobriety thing is not so bad, I have nothing to lose.”

Thus begins many stories from the sharing members of AA who sit back in their chairs and take us with them to the pits of their personal hells.  We cry with them, we chuckle over stupid things they did, we feel a growing bond with their life story.  In the end we know we are all one, a brotherhood/sisterhood of lost souls who rediscovered life through the loving compassion shared by members of Alcoholics Anonymous.  We found a God who loved us unconditionally, who did not condemn, who promised to lead us to productive lives living soberly.

We listen intently, nodding in agreement as a reader shares the promises from the Big Book:

1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84
Reprinted from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

The Alcoholics Anonymous miracle is an unmerited, undeserved gift of the God whom we bow before as our Higher Power.  This gift  is not aligned with any religion or theology; it embraces all faiths, all genders, all orientations, all races.  It’s principles could be the foundation of a new world in which:

“Wisdom is knowing we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and Compassion is what it acts like.”  Ethan Walker 3rd, “The Mystic Christ”

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