You might remember the famous “Last Lecture” given a few years ago. Well, this is my last blog and so I am going to share with you three of the most important realizations I have been blessed with in my years as a twelve-stepper. My recovery date is May 1, 1979 and so I consider myself a mere beginner in The Climb, but here is my humble offering.
So there I was, preparing to present to my home group, praying that I might learn something new, at least for me, in the very preparation. You would think I would have learned by now to be careful what I pray for – how often have I gotten it! Yes, the Divine struck yet again and here is what I learned:
I have been amazed at how many of us come forth from a good 5th step and immediately say, “I sure have a lot to work on.” We climb to the sixth step and realize that we have nothing to work on, unless our Higher Power indicates such to us. The 6th step is counter-intuitive. I am eager to get working on my defects but my Higher Power is telling me to hold my horses until He gives the command, pointing out which shortcoming He wants to lengthen and what he wants from me.
Easter time –the great awakening for Christians –seems like a good time to reflect on the phrase “spiritual awakening” of the 12th step. Christians believe that Easter is the answer to the questions: Is this life all that there is? Is death the end of life? For Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is the statement that there is a fullness of life waiting for us beyond death.
Recently in my home group, thanks to a brother’s presentation on the 7th step, I had the awareness of how the Divine comes alive for us as we work through the steps. We come into the community and land on the first step spiritually bankrupt and, for all intents and purposes, functioning atheists. As we climb to the second step, we at least acknowledge our wrongdoing to this Divine Power. On the third step we decide to turn ourselves over to a Higher Power, but only to a caring God, a God who is there for us.
I recently had the opportunity to present on Step Six in my home group and I was blessed with a way of presenting Defects of Character that were true to both our tradition and to my personal spirituality at this time.
Have I told you about the sponsor that I am fortunate to have at this time? Well, I will now since I am still deeply touched by our conversation last night.
I was blessed with a wonderful sponsor, George, for years, but then he died four years ago. I grieved him mightily and, after about four months, I realized I was limping along in my recovery without a sponsor. I was finding it easier to skip my home group, easier to breeze through my tenth step at night. I began to pray for the grace to both want a sponsor and to know who that might be. In the quiet of my prayer what I heard was “Bob.”
Tony DeMello, a great spiritual teacher, used to say that in the spiritual life only three things are necessary: “Awareness, awareness, awareness.”
He might as well have said that all we have to do to live spiritually is, “Wake up, wake up, wake up.”
Back in the early 1970’s, I had the opportunity to be summer pastor at a small church in Struble, Iowa, just north of LeMars. There was little to no night life and I quickly became the gathering place for the adolescents of the town. Night after night, as July gave way to August, they would appear, telling their tales of “walking the beans” or “walking the corn” that day. As a city boy, I had no idea what they were talking about until they actually took me out to a field and invited me to “walk the beans’ with them. I was amazed at the number and variety of weeds that were growing up with the crops. I was also surprised at how quickly the work became tedious and taxing, necessary as it was.