March 25, 2016
We are continuing our topics based on the spiritual principles of each of the 12 Steps. Last Friday, our topic was Step 5 and the principle of Integrity: "Admitted to G-d, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
These were some of the quotes we carried into our small groups for discussion:
"When we are honest with another person, it confirms that we have been honest with ourselves. Often it was while we were working on this step with our sponsor that we first felt truly able to forgive, no matter how deeply others had wronged us."
“Many in AA, who were once agnostic or atheist, tell us that it was during this stage of Step Five that they actually felt the presence of G-d. And even those who had faith already often became conscious of G-d as they never were before."
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
"Most of us would declare that without a fearless admission of our defects to another human being we could not stay sober."
"Step 5 was the answer. It was the beginning of true kinship with G-d and man."
- The Big Book
"Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain."
"Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."
- C.S Lewis
We discussed the following questions:
- Can you see how the spiritual gifts (in the previous 4 steps) of honesty, hope, faith, and courage helped you to arrive at integrity in Step 5?
- Why do you think forgiveness often comes so strongly in this step?
- What does the presence of G-d feel like to you? If you haven't felt it yet, how would you imagine that it would feel?
We followed with some readings:
"All of us walk into the rooms of Alcoholic Anonymous with the solution inside. Guilt and remorse blocks us from a spiritual experience. The fear of judgment and self loathing dominates us. Therefore honesty with another human being is necessary if resentment, fear, and sexual misconduct are to be removed so that the spirit of the universe can find its way inside our hearts and set us free."
- Tommy B. "Scaan" (South County AA Newsletter)
"First we must understand that the purpose of a spiritual journey is to change our personal reality. In other words, the actions we take will cause us to see everything differently. Our world may still be the same, but we will see it in a new way, one we have only dreamed of before. This change will be accomplished not by learning anything new, but rather by unlearning or relinquishing the old. The truth about ourselves already lies within us. We were born with it. Our task consists of fearlessly taking stock of our old ideas. Then we must spiritually discard them while at the same time fully embracing the fact that reducing ego will be a painful process. Remarkably, out of this arduous process itself, comes the joyful awareness that a loving G-d truly exists within us."
- Sandy Beach
After the readings, the patients spent some time in guided meditation and then listened quietly to the song "Sanctuary" by Donna Delory. Listening to music can be a form of meditation.
This song asks G-d to make us a living Sanctuary; to help us become a place of safety, comfort, and love - a "place” of G-d. We can all be this when we do our work; when we surrender, when we become open and teachable, and when we turn to our Higher Power.
In the small groups, topics ranged from integrity to forgiveness to spirituality:
"Integrity for me is when I'm about to do something I know is wrong and I get a feeling that tells me 'No!' That’s my Higher Power."
"Spirituality is living from your soul, not your physical self."
- "Not straying."
- "G-d inside all of us."
I then shared my integrity lesson for the day:
On Friday morning, I was on my way to Caron Renaissance to meet a patient. I was running late and I wanted to stop for donuts. The line was taking FOREVER at Dunkin Donuts, but I had to stop. As I went to make a right turn in, I noticed that there was another car coming in from the other direction and she was clearly there first. But I've got something important to do!!! I thought. But then, I thought again and realized the right thing to do was let her turn into the drive-thru first and then pray. When I got to the window to pick up my donuts, the cashier said "Here you go! No charge... the lady in front of you paid for your donuts! Have a nice day!”
Did I have the best day that Friday!? I felt so blessed. Spirit never ceases to surprise or amaze me and the lesson came at the most perfect time! Thank you, G-d. (FYI I then paid it forward. THAT felt even better!!)
We ended with a video of an interview with Hugh Jackman answering the question "What is G-d?"
Each patient received a card with this printed on it:
The most beautiful people we have known
are those who have known defeat,
known suffering, known struggle, known loss,
and have found their way out of the depths.
These persons have an appreciation,
a sensitivity, and an understanding
of life that fills them with compassion,
gentleness, and a deep loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen.
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Yes. You are beautiful.
Reverend Laurie Durgan