amazing grace

“MY CHAINS ARE GONE – I’VE BEEN SET FREE”

Many of us in recovery from addiction tearfully and prayerfully remember our brothers and sisters who have died or are still suffering and we quietly say, “But, for the grace of God, there go I.”

We believe it was grace, not luck nor will power, that brought us to our knees in humility seeking a better way, a return to sanity, a reason to continue on our journeys as participants in life. It was grace that set us free from the hell of alcoholism and drug addiction. It is still today that amazing grace which keeps us clean and serene. We praise the power whom we address as Lord and Savior as we thankfully remember the many others along the way who have knelt with us, cried with us and prayed with us.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

John 8:36

Beggar in the presence of a king

If your life is perfect, if you have no problems, if your faith is strong as an ox, then this post is probably not for you.  On the other hand, if you are like me, a man who questions everything, doubts everything as the disciple Thomas did, reels between ecstasy and bewilderment when considering the things of faith, then we can appreciate the title of Matthew West’s song, BROKEN THINGS.

“If it’s true you use broken things – then here I am Lord, I’m all yours.”

People don’t like broken things – they throw away cracked dishes, broken vacuum cleaners, flickering lamps, worn clothing.  I remember my grandfather who took his shoes to a cobbler to be re-soled rather than buy new shoes.  Thinking he could not afford new shoes, I bought him a pair for Christmas.  Graciously he thanked me but continued wearing those old shoes.  That new pair was still in its box when Grandpa died.

Rather than repairing broken relationships, husbands and wives will find good divorce lawyers.  Fathers and sons remain estranged for many years after a disagreement, not remembering what the argument was about, but too stubborn to reconcile.  For many of us, broken relationships are not worth repairing.

I was the last to admit that I was broken.  My life had spiraled head first into a vast darkness which applauded my efforts to be strong, to be better than others, to stand out from the crowd, to chart my own destiny no matter what the cost.  I swam in that sea of darkness believing it was my strength of character and independence that kept me afloat.  I did it entirely on my own personal will power.  I drove myself to be a self-made man, independent of anyone – especially God.

Some of us are sicker than others.  Thankfully, God knows this; he has a special room in His heart for the sickest of the sick.  Patiently, steadfastly, lovingly He guided me to a place where I could take an honest assessment of me – on my knees.  We talked, we cried, we screamed out in pain and then we entered the wide gate into the Kingdom of grace.

I am still a broken vessel today.  I like it that way because my Lord can use broken things to fix the brokenness which He sees in his human family.  Patch me, glue me, bind me together.  Like that pair of Grandpa’s worn-out shoes, I can always be re-souled.  “I am just a beggar in the presence of a King.”

“Grace is a Kingdom with gates open wide.”

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COURTESY OF lum3n.com

 

another 72 hours

unshackled-2So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

Well, how was your weekend?  Did you get all those chores accomplished?  Maybe an afternoon family BBQ by the pool?  Did you maintain sober-living for the past 72 hours?  Not just alcohol free, but truly sobriety-appreciating behavior?

If today finds you sober and serene, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.  If not, tomorrow is another day to start your adventure through sobriety.sober emoji

Leonard Cohen

unshackled-2So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

“For the millions in a prison
That wealth has set apart—
For the Christ who has not risen,
From the caverns of the heart

For the innermost decision
That we cannot but obey
For what’s left of our religion,
I lift my voice and pray;
May the lights in the land of Plenty
Shine on the truth someday.”

—Leonard Cohen

stuff

disconnect

Welcome to my little get-away.  Do you like it?  Before we settle in let’s toss some of the excess baggage.  There’s no room for those resentments about the past nor worries about tomorrow.  Get rid of that backpack of responsibilities weighing you down.  Settle in under my palm tree and let’s look just beyond the horizon.  It’s calling us, isn’t it?  Rest for the soul. 

You have probably noticed that there is not a house under my palm tree, not even a hut or tent.  Running water would be nice, but what use is a bathroom without a house?  There is no shed for excess belongings, no lawn mower, no shovels, no wheelbarrow.  No need for a storage unit across town in which to store all the stuff that won’t fit into the attic or cellar or garage.  Pretty sparse by American standards – actually downright spartan.

Stuff – it’s the American way.  More, more, more to satisfy an insatiable thirst for possessions that will prove to our friends and neighbors how successful we are and to ourselves that we are special.  Then, when we tire of our stuff, we throw it into the dumpster and immediately run to Wally World to buy more stuff.  Stuff, stuff, stuff.

As we ponder the horizon from under our palm tree, let’s consider what our greed and Madison Avenue’s advertising genius have done to us as a society.  The USA consumes an enormously disproportionate share of the earth’s resources to produce all the conveniences and goods we are accustomed to having.  One would think, therefore, that we are the most content, well-balanced, satisfied nation on the surface of the planet enjoying the most advanced living standard.  Really?

What went wrong?  We bought into capitalism’s promises of fulfillment and happiness hook, line, and sinker.  We were snookered by the rich cats living in opulence surrounded by all their stuff which, by the way, is much better than our stuff.  Oh no.  Not only did they lead us astray, they got away with the really good stuff and left us with the junk!

Head spinning yet?  Come back, back to our horizon, back to our palm tree, back to what is important – living in the now.  Surrender to the wisdom of the ancient mystics who told us that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enjoy a place of peace (heaven) while saddled with his stuff.

pride8

unshackled-2

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

incredible, aren’t we?

disconnect

Well, here we are – my little get-away.  Do you like it?  Before we settle in let’s toss some of the excess baggage.  There’s no room for those resentments about the past nor worries about tomorrow.  Get rid of that backpack of responsibilities weighing you down.  Settle in under my palm tree and let’s look just beyond the horizon.  It’s calling us, isn’t it?  Rest for the soul. 

We are magnificently designed.  Yet, of all the earth’s creation, we do not live our lives according to that which was intended for us.  Lions prowl the jungles and growl as intended, eagles soar through the skies and prey as intended, butterflies flit from flower to flower and pollinate as intended, trees grow majestic and tall giving shade  as intended.  But we humans, we ignore our incredible, wonderfully gifted inner self seeking instead the approval of others, experiencing conflict when that approval is not given, regretting our pasts and worrying about our futures.  All of creation, except us, live in the now.  We can change.  We can look beyond the limits of our self-imposed horizon and discover the incredible person that is us.

UNSHACKLED 2

time to unplug

 

A steady diet of shameful news, government corruption, political shenanigans sometimes needs to be met living a few days unplugged.  No FB, no news feeds, no front page stories cropped-35.pngin the newspaper, no diversions from self-imposed exile on my front porch…or maybe  a visit to my brothers on Constagos, my Mediterranean get-away island.  Love you all.

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

mysteries

 
lao tzu

“Ok, so I was thinking.  Back in the 600-500 B.C. era in China, good ole Lao probably didn’t have as much about which to be depressed or anxious as we do today in 2020.  The environment was just fine, the economy was thriving, the government was stable, the family was well fed, and he spent his days writing clever things while sitting in gardens filled with butterflies and hummingbirds.

Yeah, I know.  Lao Tzu was probably just a figment of China’s imagination, but the writings attributed to him in the Tao Te Ching have inspired humans for centuries.  It’s like Jesus of the New Testament.  We can’t really prove the historicity of his existence, but, haven’t the verses assigned to him enriched our worlds?

The mysteries that beguile us are probably best left to be just that – mysteries.  If we would spend less time trying to conquer and understand the complexities of the universe and more time simply enjoying moments of inspiration and joy, maybe then depression and anxiety would leave us.

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

ALBUQUERQUE – you’re next

REUTERS

Not only has the presence of feds in Portland not reduced the number of protestors, the peaceful marchers have dramatically increased bringing international and national attention to the plight of Black America.  The ploy of the WH seems to have backfired, although we cannot underestimate what Washington D.C. is willing to undertake in efforts to establish its authoritarian power over the rights of states and citizens.

Coming to your home town – Albuquerque, you appear to be the next city in the crosshairs.  Brace yourselves and may God be with you.  Authoritarianism is rolling across America.

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

undying love

Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus shows what it means to have one person hold fast to us in our hour of need, despite the apparent hopelessness of it all. cac.org – RICHARD ROHR

This magnificent woman of the Jesus story has been horribly maligned over the centuries since the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries.  The male dominated Church chose to depict her as a sinner suffering seven demons within, healed by Jesus, then becoming a follower of the Jesus and the Way.

In 591 Pope Gregory I delivered a series of Easter messages blending Mary Magdalene with the “sinful woman” of Bethel who anoints the feet of Jesus with precious oil and then wipes his feet with her long hair.  This led to the theory that Mary, the apostle, was a repentant prostitute.

Even more interesting is the theory that Mary was in reality the wife of Jesus as popularized in the book and movie the Da Vinci Code and that they possibly had a child.  And why not?  Considering how the Roman Church had bastardized the teachings of Jesus, why can’t we believe that a healthy, devout Jewish man in his early 30s would  have a wife and family.

I’ll answer my own question – that would negate the basic foundation of the priesthood of the Roman Church – chastity and celibacy.  It would also question the Church’s premise that men were superior to women in spiritual affairs thereby justifying that women should be relegated to submissive roles in family life.

I have digressed from the intent of this writing:  one’s undying love for another.  Have you ever loved another person so deeply and unconditionally that even in the greatest times of despair you refused to give in to hopelessness?  In a family unit trying to  navigate the despair and hopelessness of an alcoholic loved one, we hang on to faith and hope, don’t we?  We pray, we plead, we beg, we threaten, we cry, we yell…and then we pray some more.  Why?  Because we still have hope in the face of hopelessness.  That’s what our Higher Power gives us.  The examples of undying love which we see around the tables of AA, the power of another’s comforting words, the personalities we read about in Scriptures all give us reason to go on for yet another day.  We cannot allow despair and hopelessness into our lives.

Mary Magdalene was that kind of person.  She loved her Jesus, stood by his side, wept at his cross, went with him to the tomb, guarded the tomb, and then arrived first at the tomb on the 3rd day to see it empty.  Not quite understanding, even though Jesus had told them in numerous conversations that he would indeed resurrect, Mary thought the body had been taken away.  Perhaps, briefly, at this moment she gave in to despair and hopelessness thinking the recipient of her undying love was forever lost:

“They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him,” was her reply to the angels standing nearby who asked why she was crying.

The resurrection message from John 20:10-18 continues to tell us that her Lord was there all the time even when she did not recognize the presence.  Mary Magdalene stood by her Jesus through the good times and the bad, through the trials of being a rebel, being an outcast from the Jewish hierarchy, being an insurrectionist in the eyes of the Romans, through the humiliation of his crucifixion, and finally through her perceived loss.

My loved ones were my Mary Magdalene through the difficulties, the heartbreaks, the disappointments, the betrayals, the lies, the drunkenness.  Theirs was an undying love.  Today, in sobriety, I hope to be the same to the ‘still suffering alcoholic’ who shares my life.

for my best friend, with lovecropped-cropped-picture40.png

 

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….