Through the Red Door Blog

In the early days of the Church, when the front door of the parish was painted red it was said to signify sanctuary – that the ground beyond these doors was holy, and anyone who entered through them was safe from harm.

In the lives of many recovering people, it is through these same red doors that sanctuary is found on a daily basis. Initially that sanctuary may not have started in the rooms with high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, but in the basements and back rooms of churches where 12-step meetings are held.

This blog was created for recovering people to share the experiences they found walking through those doors of safety, refuge and peace.

 
To submit a entry to the blog, please click here for the details or contact us at info@episcopalrecovery.org.

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  • 10/21/2021 8:17 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about the people who surrounded me in those early days as I began to emerge from the darkness of active addiction. To be truthful, it’s impossible to remember them all; there were many acts of kindness that I wasn’t able to see and will never know. Yet there they were, a veritable squad of cheerleaders urging me forward into new life. There are those, of course, who remain bright in my mind’s eye. This is a story about one of those beacons.

    On one of the darkest days of my life, I was sitting in the local courthouse waiting to meet with a prosecutor. I had hit rock bottom with a resounding and humiliating splat. I was trying to wrap my mind around how I had gotten there. The shame was overpowering, and I had little reason for optimism about what would happen next.

    As I waited, I noticed a young girl, maybe 4 or 5 years of age, with cascades of curly brown hair, scampering around the corridor. I recall thinking, “if this was last week, I might have looked for the girl’s parents and asked if I could bless her.” In my early priesthood, a mentor had recommended this as a spiritual practice. And I loved it. But it wasn’t last week. It was now. I had been arrested for possession, removed from my parish, and suspended. No clerical collar today. No blessing of children.

    As I sat there, lost in thought, and wrapped in self-pity, I realized that that little girl was now standing in front of me, regarding me with her enormous brown eyes. When I said hello, she solemnly handed me one of those giant paper clips (I remember that it was pink) with as much care as if it were a Fabergé egg. “This is for you,” she said. “Don’t put it in your mouth.” And then she scrambled up and sat beside me to chat. A gift, some advice, and companionship. It sounds a lot like God to me.

    That was 7+ years ago. Along the road of recovery, what with moving into and out of rehab, then sober housing, eventually an apartment, and then halfway across the country, some of the souvenirs of my new life have gone astray, that giant pink paperclip among them. Even so, that little girl’s gift to me has remained in my heart.

    Recently, I shared part of this story in a sermon. The Gospel was Jesus telling the disciples to learn about the reign of God from children. “Look into the tiniest faces and see God,” I said.

    After the service, in one of those lovely ways that the universe sometimes rhymes, the first person to greet me at the door solemnly handed me, you guessed it, a giant pink paperclip. “This is for you,” he said. And then, with a wink, “don’t put it in your mouth.”

    This new souvenir now lives in my Prayer Book, and I hope to hold on to it for a long time. But, even if I don’t, I will always treasure, and hope to pass on to others, the gift of that nameless little girl. On that dreadful day, I couldn’t bless her, but she blessed me with a warm, bright beacon illuminating the road of happy destiny, a path that I look forward to trudging for many days to come.

    Paul J.
    Muncie, IN

  • 10/14/2021 7:01 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door

    Do you ever complain?

    I do!

    I was challenged with this recently when my Rector taught through the book of Job in the Lectionary. He described the tendency we have as humans to grumble about just about everything. He recalled the people of Israel in the wilderness. Not long after crossing the Red Sea, they quickly longed to return to Egypt. After all, they had full bellies and excellent mattresses. Ah, the good ol days. They seemed to forget that the return to Egypt was a return to enslavement.

    In my recovery, I can identify two types of looking back. The one I am most familiar with is called euphoric recall. Euphoric recall is when I look back at a previous addiction episode in a positive light. I remember doing this when I first began my twelve-step journey. Oh, the adventures! The compulsion would cover up the pain of dealing with challenging emotions. How easy it was to sit in the ashes of my addiction and grumble, It was better when I was acting out.” Not dealing with my problems, my character defects through acting out in my addiction seemed like bliss compared to the pain I felt as I began to experience withdrawal.

    For me, euphoric recall is a form of denial. When I choose to focus on the high from my addiction, I deny the reality of the consequences of acting out. I only get a partial picture of what my addiction does to others and the toll it takes on my spirit, body, and sanity. My program urges me to practice rigorous honesty. Euphoric recall is the opposite of that commitment.

    I also find myself recalling the early days of recovery. Lately, this often occurs as I remember the pre-pandemic community of how things used to be. Being able to see each other face-to-face instead of through a video screen, the simple pleasure of setting up chairs in the meeting room, and the personal interaction that doesn’t translate across the internet are things I miss. It is also easy to compare my current level of passion in recovery against those early days.

    I must not coast on my past successes in recovery. Thankfully, my friends in the program remind me that doing so is a risky business. There are no laurels upon which to rest. The saying is true when we feel we are doing good in recovery; our addict is out in the parking lot doing push-ups.

    Each morning I remind myself that the best position to begin my day is on my knees. It is a reminder that I require a power greater than myself. It is a position of humility. Before recovery, I would pray at my desk, like I was negotiating a business contract. Getting on my knees is a deceleration of surrender to a power greater than myself.

    For me, I have to remind myself that the life of acting out is a life I choose to die to each day. Occasionally, I have to remind myself that I must decide that from moment to moment. There is no life in the past, be it by acting out or my early recovery days. Like a partner in a marriage whose honeymoon is in the rearview mirror, I must now lean into the choice to invest in and maintain a spiritual love connection to God. When I look back, I miss the blessing of the now.

    I once read that God doesn't live in the past nor the future. God exists in the now, the present moment. While I may want to argue the theology of that statement, experience tells me it is true in my recovery. Realizing that God is present in my life today, this hour, this second that each moment is holy in itself, is a source of immense gratitude.

    It s sure hard to complain when I am grateful.

    How about you?

    Shane Montgomery
    Conway. AR
    October 13, 2021

  • 10/06/2021 6:46 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door

    In the book of Nehemiah, we read: “Then I sent to him a message saying, “No such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your own mind.” How often have we told another, or we have been told, “That’s all in your imagination.” To addicts, practicing or in recover, imagination can be a blessing or a curse.

    I answered the door knowing that it was a police officer bringing in a teenage girl whom he had picked up around two a.m. She was high and reeked of cheap beer. From experience, I knew I got more information from the kids at this hour of the morning if I cooked a hamburger than just sit and fill out paperwork. She told me she had taken a fifth of whiskey to a party of underage youth. Prior to leaving home, she ground up a handful of pills she found in the medicine cabinet. “Why did you do that?” “I just wanted to see what would happen.”

    I remember those days. “If this makes me feel good. How much better would I feel if I had another, and another.” The first night I drank alcohol, I was in my early twenties. I poured myself drinks from every bottle on the table and paid the physical, emotional. and spiritual price for it. This is what happens when our imagination runs wild. A sniff of amyl nitrate and one may begin to imagine how much better it would feel “if we had a few young women around.”

    The gift of the imagination brought about much inhuman history from creating a spade, a wheel, a motor, wings, flying in space, flying cars, drones. Most of these are used for the good of the community. Unfortunately, there are those whose anger and hatred will turn these into weapons of war and destruction The imagination has created some wonderful meals and spices to go with them. The imagination has brought about a revolution in clothing, art, movies, etc.

    Not all companies appreciate those employees whose imagination goes beyond the status quo. The church encourages one to use their imagination to celebrate the liturgy provided the liturgist stays within certain bounds and sticks with the prescribed texts.

    “What would this swirl look like if I breathed life into it?’ asked God of Herself once. Her Spirit breathed, the swirl moved, light came from darkness, gases exploded, rocks flew into the nothingness creating space and the dormant seeds began to evolve to become what they were meant to be and become. [and after twelve hours of light and twelve hours of darkness, God said to herself, “I’ll call it a day.”]

    In his song, “IMAGINE,” John Lennon invites us to imagine - No heaven or hell, people living one day at a time; No countries, no religion, no possessions, no greed or hunger and nothing to kill for; humanity living in peace – a brother/sisterhood of humanity.

    In this song Lennon admits he will be called a dreamer; he knows he is not alone, and we are invited to dream the impossible dream of humanity living in peace. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

    My imagination went dark and empty as I stood at the door of my boss’s office- “I think I have a drinking problem,” I said, and stated I would never drink again. “Why could I not have waited till Monday” I thought later on. Perhaps my Higher Power was preventing me from another weekend drinking spree.

    I threw myself wholeheartedly into the program in order to look good. My imagination had me climbing the corporate ladder as I continued to do over and above what I was asked to do -- except get sober. I stayed on an extended dry drunk.

    I think I am afraid of my imagination. I don’t want to be disappointed or disappoint. Never did I imagine myself with a D. Min., never did I imagine myself with two books published (one just arrived today.) And yet, I imagine a novel (finished), a set of short stories for my grandkids (almost finished), a drawer filled with what might pass for poetry. I never imagined myself conducting retreats for those of us in recovery and yet it has happened.

    The wonder- full thing about the above (and I may be bragging a little) is that I remember writing it; I remember sharing it with a friend; I remember my nervousness. As long as I stay sober, I can imagine a world filled with wonder. that may or may not become a reality. It’s ok to imagine and take it one day at a time.

    Séamus D. Greater New Orleans.

  • 09/29/2021 9:02 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door “Remember this!”

    Communion at our church, St. Paul’s of Newport, Kentucky, was moving along smoothly last Sunday. Suddenly, I had a flashbackone of those terrible returns to the past. Maybe it was the slight smell of wine sniffed as I “took the Cup” proffered by our Rector.

    I fought the coming recollection but to no avail. Visions started to zoom through my brain and they weren’t visions of comfort and joy or meditation. No, my mind was in the process of pointing out to me one of those twists in our path as we worked the Program. Yes, my mind started to focus on one of those shameful “evenings before & mornings after,” but that morning I had been greeted by words of comfort and joy in the sermon and the beautiful forgiving words of the Book of Common Prayer. With that, this approaching horrific vision of our alcoholic vanished.

    Whenever this happens, and it’s rare when it appears, I look at it as if my Higher Power is telling me,

    “Now Jim, don’t get all down in the dumps on Me. Remember where you came from and the path you walked as you entered and worked the Program. Those days of rage are long gone.”

    But, I believe we need to be reminded of the importance of “remembering those days of rage,” at least a bit of them.

    I pause, smile and recall that first AA meeting of others reaching out and offering assistance. I remember, as if it were yesterday, the first time I said anything publicly at a discussion meeting, the spirits of joy at those Thanksgiving banquets, and so much more.

    When one of these visions rears its ugly head and starts to come back, I acknowledge the past but remember anew that I have been blessed by the Grace of the Program and a feeling of gratitude casts its marvelous cover! These occasional dark reflections of the past are closed off and we receive the wonderful reminder of a message of recovery we are blessed to carry.

    JRA/St. X, Noon, Cincinnati.

  • 09/23/2021 10:19 AM | Anonymous
    Red Door “Figure it out” is not a slogan.

    In the River where I swim, a beaver swims and lives and plays.

    I suspect this beaver has a family, yet I see only one beaver ever.

    I’ve read that beaver build complex structures with many ways in and out so that they always feel safe yet never feel trapped. Historically, I’ve felt as though I emotionally resemble this all too well.

    This beaver never has to figure out where to go or what to do when the people let their dogs off leash. Beaver swims silently, rapidly against the current into its dam.

    If a dog (or human) dare follow, Beaver is likely no longer inside and not likely to be found because the way out can’t be figured out.

    This morning, while I was swimming in the River, rains poured down.

    Not too long ago in such a situation, my amygdala would have signaled fight-flight-freeze-which one?-all three!

    Today, the rain poured down on me in the River, and I surfaced, lifted my goggles, and saw Beaver speeding upstream.

    Beaver wasn’t flipping her lid; “nothing to figure out here!”

    My cell phone, keys, towel sat on a rock across the River. I couldn’t figure out how to get to them, how to save them from the rain.

    My car was parked across the River and down the road - windows down. I couldn’t figure out how I would drive home with wet seats or how I’d dry them out.

    “Figure it out” is not a slogan.

    “For You alone my soul waits in silence;
    my hope is from the Beloved.
    Enfolding me with strength and steadfast love, My faith shall remain firm.
    In the Silence rests my freedom and my guidance; for You are the Heart of my heart,
    You speak to me in the Silence.” (Ps. 62, Merrill)

    Turning from the drink, turning from the pills—these are second nature to me now, yet the emotions linked lie just beneath the surface.

    Today, when I saw the beaver swimming beside me in the River in the rain, I stopped, took a deep breath, observed the beaver and the River and the rain and myself, and proceeded to swim upstream with the beaver.

    I left the worries for another time.

    “Figure it out” is not a slogan; “In the Silence rests my freedom” might be mine.

    Brandon Beck
    St Mark’s Episcopal Church, San Marcos TX
    22 September 2021
  • 09/08/2021 7:51 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door Not sure how I got there, to St. Smithers Hospital. I recall coming home from a dinner party and found myself leaning on the hospital’s registration desk. The floor seemed slippery ‘cause I had a hard time holding myself upright. A gurney appeared and I was told to “get on” and with a couple of folks holding and pulling me, I sorta fell on this bed-looking thing. Someone was pulling at some straps running over my chest, legs, arms. I was a bit confused, my mind fuzzy so I couldn’t raise any protest.  Someone at this desk said, “Go to Rm 3-37” and off we went to Room 37, 3rd floor. The door looked strange. It was 2 doors, a door in a door. The room was small, a bed and a chair which both were rather large, heavy -- looked like one of those over-sized brown plastic loungers with a lever and cup holder on the side. A nurse handed me one of those sheet-like gowns so popular with the medical profession, “Put this thing on,” she ordered. Still in my suit and my arms and legs belted down, still kinda fuzzy, I eventually wrestled out of my suit and on with the gown. I was handed a pair of grey socks that had rubber cleats on the sole, an IV plugged into my arm. Of course, they had earlier taken my belt, shoe laces, a pen, phone, pencil, calendar and briefcase. Forgot to tell you, but I had a bracelet put on by the people behind that registration desk. They also gave me some stuff to read, a dark blue book whose cover I couldn’t read, a pamphlet with a bunch of dates and times for what looked like meetings. That first night, even drugged by the IV just inserted in my arm, I didn’t sleep very well probably because nurses kept waking me, “How are you,” they’d ask, a different one it seemed each hour, and always checking the IV.

    So began a program I had placed myself in to examine whether I needed treatment for alcoholism. I say “I had placed myself. That wasn’t the whole story. Let’s put it this way: my spouse said, ‘It was the Program at St. Smithers or I was out.’“  

    I remember leaving the hospital in a week and attending my first AA meeting. Actually, I enjoyed the stay in the hospital. Couple AA-ers dropped by and we talked about their Program, what they did, and they made some recommendations for meetings. I had time to consider what was happening to me. I of course wasn’t blind. I knew I was using alcohol to deal with life and alcohol didn’t provide much relief from what I termed my bag of problems. I felt a new focus of what they were saying at St. Smithers. I saw there were other options, that my use of alcohol was a false and dangerous drug that was killing my relations with myself, family and others, an addiction which was pulling me downward and deeper into a dark pit. This awakening didn’t exactly come overnight but my eyes started to open at St. Smithers. This experience finally put me on Recovery Road and I was anxious to get out so I could spend the time working the Program. There were bumps in that road, all was not smooth, there were a couple detours but those were short and painful. I stuck with it. I had almost given up at St. Smithers but people came to reach out to me sharing their experiences with their drug of addiction.  

    So, I have to remember, there is help available. I was not alone. It seemed as if we joined hands and traveled similar paths. It works but it takes time and work on the elements of the Program. But it is a life-giving experience which “works if you work it.” The Program has been a “life saver” for me and my family. I am grateful.

    Jim A, St. X Noon, Cincinnati

  • 09/03/2021 12:19 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door In the Yom Kippur confessional, we read: “Before a person is healed, he must acknowledge his illness. Before a person finds light, she must know her own darkness. And before a people is forgiven, it must confess its sins. We confess our sins and those of our fellows for we are responsible, one for another. Heal us Adonai, and lead us through darkness to light.”

    Living and working the steps is a journey from darkness to light, from powerlessness to an understanding of that power ‘greater than ourselves” that can restore us to sanity” and we “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for His will for us and the power to carry it out.”

    I was four and a half years in the program doing everything right for the wrong reasons and so, when I had my spiritual awakening, I began to acknowledge I am an alcoholic, that my life was unmanageable. I had not lost a job, a home, or transportation. What hit me most was I had lost myself; I had lost my values. Was I sick or what? Yes, I was one sick cookie and I needed to be healed. For this reason, I let people know I am in the program forty-two years but I’m only sober thirty-seven. had to acknowledge my illness. As used to be said in therapy; “You can’t deal with something you don’t own.”

    Before I found the light, I had to acknowledge my own darkness. It never ceases to amaze me that, here I was, a priest, a counselor, walking around in darkness and thinking I was a light to the people in Alcoholics Anonymous. Knowledge of an illness does not mean that one can see one’s own illness. Just because I know about the signs and symptoms of an illness does not mean I can recognize them in myself. Denial is an outstanding blindness for victims of this disease. Not only was I blind to the disease, I was spiritually blind. I could not see how my behavior was impacting myself and others. I could not see the goodness of my Higher Power directing me to those who could and would help me if I sought them out. I could not see that my use, abuse, addiction to alcohol and other drugs was killing me slowly.

    To be forgiven, I had to confess my failings. This was near to impossible. I had no character defects (Pride!!). I had to be taught. And, I was. I was taught by a gentle and compassionate layperson who did not attend any church but understood spiritually much better than I did. I learned humility and gratitude.

    Mentally, Emotionally, Socially, and Physically I was dying. Some weeks after I “graduated” from treatment, I returned to retake some IQ test and, uncomfortably and happily, discovered that my brain was functioning much, much better. Emotionally I came to realize I was functioning on two cells; anger and fear. I had to learn to say “I feel____” without the use of “ think; or, like” in the sentence. I also had to stop saying “You make me feel___” Socially, I realized, I had surrounded myself with people who drank as much if not more than I did. I was Spiritually deceased. I was among the walking dead.

    I look back and see that it was those who had already confessed their failings who became wounded-healers for me, helped me see my own failings, own them, and then let myself be healed through confession, forgiveness of self and others, accepting forgiveness and asking for God’s power to be my source of power in the future.

    Bill W. said that the steps of AA could be found in any religion and philosophy. Here in this Jewish prayer for the day of atonement (at-one-ment: Becoming whole) is pretty much the steps I and others used to grow from powerlessness to being given the power to carry out the work we are called to do. “Before a person is healed, he must acknowledge his illness. Before a person finds light, she must know her own darkness. And before a people is forgiven, it must confess its sins. We confess our sins and those of our fellows for we are responsible, one for another. Heal us Adonai, and lead us through darkness to light.”

    Séamus D.

    Greater New Orleans Area
  • 08/26/2021 8:44 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door

    A month ago, I revisited the church where I first walked into my first Twelve-Step meeting. This meeting, held in a local Lutheran church, sets adjacent to the school where I spent years as a teacher. Perhaps I had avoided returning to this particular meeting for years because outside of the meeting room window sat the wreckage of my past and the amends I had been procrastinating for years.

    As alcoholism consumed my life, there was little doubt: I had lost the ability to function. The light of passion that once filled my days of teaching was extinguished. It was easy to see my: tardiness and the absent days, and the hallways I had once filled with student work were bare. As hard as my administration tried to compassionately talk to me, I found it baffling to imagine how to escape my self-inflicted hell. I knew the end had come, and I resolved myself to quitting.

    The shame of my failure only deepened the darkness of my alcoholism. I was lost and was not sure if there was a God, and if there was a God, I did not feel worthy. I wandered aimlessly like a lost sheep. In desperation I in walked into my first 12-Step meeting, but for several months, fear kept me from coming back. I was desperate, but filled with the fear of what life would be like without the lull of numbness.

    It would be several more months of misery before I would walk back into a Twelve-Step meeting and attend outpatient treatment, as a last-ditch effort to not die. Reluctantly, I found a sponsor. If it had not been a requirement of treatment, I am sure I would not have done so. I was steadfast to my self-will. To be frank, willingness and I would not get well acquainted for years to come.

    As my half-measure sobriety spiraled and in the midst of the pandemic, I found myself in a dark place again. This time there was no pink cloud filled with the excitement of the naïve new, but rather a prayer I repeated, "Please God, guide me into willingness." Slowly, my prayers were answered. I rigorously worked with my sponsor, I took suggestions, and I attended meetings daily. I continued to pray for willingness.

    I became willing to go any lengths for sobriety. Part of those lengths involved attending a meeting at the Lutheran church I had visited years before. Just like I did in the prior visit, I peered out the window and saw the school. I knew it was time to face the wreckage of my past. It was time to make the amends that I had been avoiding. I immediately called my sponsor and told her it was time. I prayed for willingness. I put my trust in God rather than fear.

    As I reached out to my former principal, I prayed for willingness, "Thy will be done, not mine." In the arms of God my fears were calmed. The day came to make the amends. The morning was filled with a connection from God that he was in control, and my being was filled with peace.

    For years I had allowed fear and shame to dictate the narrative in my mind. The truth, the reality of the amends, could not have been further from the lies I had ingrained. When I arrived to make the amends, I was lovingly embraced with a hug. In that moment all my fears faded. My heart and soul were filled with peace. I sat down and the words of the amends came out of my mouth. I was met words of Godly compassion. When I was told I had been forgiven, I knew those words came from a genuine place of God’s love. The fear and shame could not compete with the abundance of grace I found while making the amends.

    In that moment, I understood the beauty in willingness and God's Will, not mine.

  • 08/19/2021 7:32 PM | Anonymous
    Red Door

    As a child and teen and young adult...well until I was almost 40...I fought to be the first and the best.

    I was the first and only girl in the Boys’ Little League.

    I was the youngest, best girl (child) (person) in Taekwondo.

    I was the only bassoonist in the band, and the top contrabassoonist in the state.

    I was the first girl to be quartermaster for the band, and I was the girl who wore pants even though the drum major uniform was designed for girls as a skirt and go-go boots.

    I was the first transgender person in the PhD program at the institution I attended.

    I was tired, worn out, burned out.1

    My commitment to sobriety from alcohol and drugs, begun in 2003 and not yet finished - never finished - always learning and growing and changing - yet to which I’m always committed - had not yet adapted to recognize and encompass my compulsive perfectionist behaviors.

    For a time, I chose not to acknowle

    As a child and teen and young adult...well until I was almost 40...I fought to be the first and the best.

    I was the first and only girl in the Boys’ Little League.

    I was the youngest, best girl (child) (person) in Taekwondo.

    I was the only bassoonist in the band, and the top contrabassoonist in the state.

    I was the first girl to be quartermaster for the band, and I was the girl who wore pants even though the drum major uniform was designed for girls as a skirt and go-go boots.

    I was the first transgender person in the PhD program at the institution I attended.

    I was tired, worn out, burned out.1

    My commitment to sobriety from alcohol and drugs, begun in 2003 and not yet finished - never finished - always learning and growing and changing - yet to which I’m always committed - had not yet adapted to recognize and encompass my compulsive perfectionist behaviors.

    For a time, I chose not to acknowledge my feelings and to bury my head in the proverbial sands of people-pleasing, over-committing, continual hopping from place to place, and grass-is-greener thinking.

    Then I met St. Benedict of Nursia.

    And St. Benedict called me to what I thought was an entirely different recovery life.

    Now, I practice this recovery life in a more integrated body-mind-soul, God-me-you way.

    I practice emotional sobriety along with drug and alcohol sobriety.

    I ruminate on St. Benedict’s Rule with a dispersed monastic community.

    I honor the community charisms of prayer, service, hospitality, surprise, inclusion, safety, community relationship, study, growth, lectio divina, and humility.

    I continue in my sobriety from alcohol and drugs as I learn emotional sobriety through daily reflection on my interactions around these charisms from the view of my reading of The Rule of St. Benedict. Have I noticed my emotions? Have I stopped and stepped back from those emotions? Have I proceeded mindfully after I’ve observed my emotions, using all these charisms as led and empowered by grace?

    I am in discernment with this community of dispersed monastics. Am I following The Way I to Vowed Life in this Community? Will I commit to Conversion of Life, Ongoing Growth, Change, Stability, Obedience, Trust, Wisdom, Balance, Absolute Faith in the Goodness of God, and Prophetic Witness?

    You see, I have. I do. Every day that I commit and re-commit to this life of recovery - this life of reflection and contemplation of what it means to choose life each and every moment of each and every day - to accept obstacles as “what you see when you take your eyes off the goal” - to choose all these many ways of being a genderfull and open-minded, humble, living child of God - I am choosing to be a vowed Benedictine.

    John Edward Crean, Jr. writes in Recovering Benedict: Twelve-Step Living and the Rule of Benedict for 18 August, in his reflection on Chapter 63 (Community Rank) of The Rule,

    Seniors in long-term recovery are not unlike monastics who have made a similar lifelong commitment. The addict’s or codependent’s recovery community is the ploughshare taken up but never abandoned. No matter how hard the struggle, with help from my Higher Power I can persist and persevere. (130)

    The formal step of taking vows with The New Benedictine Community will come with time on contact, when God, Jesus, Spirit, Community, and I wink together in readiness and awareness. I don’t have to be first or best. I can just be.

    For now, my steps have led me to a time of quiet contemplation - a time and place in which I can listen for the “small, clear voice within”3 as She reminds me that I am a recoverer, lifelong, and God loves me. Amen.

    1. Matthew 28-30 (MSG)

     2. A wallet card I’ve carried since 2008, a gift from an important lateral ancestor, affectionately known as GG John - now 99 years-old and still going strong, penned by his wild and precious Jackie.

    3. Chittister, Joan, OSB. (1992). The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages, Crossroad, New York. 22.

    Brandon J Beck, MFA, PhD, Genderfull
    St. Mark’s, San Marcos, TX
    tkdpower1@gmail.com
  • 08/13/2021 7:40 AM | Anonymous
    Red Door

    In 1936, in his book, Toward the Future, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” We can only wonder if de Chardin was aware that in the previous year a force had been tapped into that would change the twentieth century and centuries to come.

    The fire that was ignited was that of two men discussing a common problem over a cup of coffee (and cigarettes)  . The fire was the desire to help other alcoholics find a way to live which, up till then, did not exist. True, there was prohibition; the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, and numerous other ways to attempt to attain sobriety with little success.

    The fire ignited was a love for living which was ignited by a Spiritual Awakening to see the world in a new way, through “a new pair of glasses” as it were. “This man spoke my language” said Dr. Bob. In other words, the Bible which he knew so well and taught, did not speak the language he needed to hear. The medical profession of which he was a part, did not speak his language. It was Carl Jung’s concept that, what was needed, was a Spiritual Awakening, that created the spark which ignited a chain of events culminating in Bill and Bob becoming the co-founders of this simple program “which is suggested as a program for sobriety.”

    There had to be a fire burning in the hearts of these men as they met with opposition in various forms. After all, where did they go to learn about addiction other than their own devastating experiencing? This same heart that cried out for help; this heart that wanted to be better, that could not find a way out of the bottle, was finally released in an image described as “I became acutely conscious of a presence which seemed like a veritable sea of living spirit. I lay on the shores of a new world. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘must be the great reality. The God of the preachers.’”

    A third man joined, then a fourth, and more. What were they to do but share their experience, strength and hope as they had little to no other programs from which to draw upon? Rising from the death-grip of addiction, these men wanted to breathe, they wanted to live. These men were on fire due to the love they experienced in their new life the likes of which they had not imagined prior to this. The fire, ignited by Carl Jung with Roland H. who carried that torch to Ebby T. and, from there the fire was further ignited through input from Sam Shoemaker, Fr John Ford, Bishop Fulton Sheen, etc.

    Today, millions of men, women, and teens attend meetings that use the twelve-step spiritual program to help them live one day at a time. Some, initially, were put off by the fire of loving concern for one another. “Some of us held onto our old ways.” Sooner or later, that fire which we had experienced drew us back like a moth to a flame. We wanted what those others wanted. We might not have been consciously aware of that (I certainly wasn’t as it took me four and a half years of a dry drunk to get the point).

    This past eighteen months have been a pain for so many of us and yet, this past eighteen months have been exciting as people reported being at meetings in Ireland, Australia, England, Germany, etc. The whole wide world (www) of Alcoholics Anonymous was and remains connected by Zoom. Newcomers have arrived in a little square box, asked for a virtual chip and received a virtual hug and they stayed. They stayed because they caught the fire that was burning through the screens of phones and computers, giving support, hope, laughter, compassion, and more.

    I have no doubt that if de Chardin were here today he would acknowledge that, in Alcoholics Anonymous (and affiliated twelve-step groups), the fire of love has been harnessed and witnessed as millions of men and women are now living sober and serene lives, are experiencing the love and respect they craved, are now loving and caring wounded healers.

    Séamus D

    Greater New Orleans Area.

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