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​Spiritual Friday: Step 8 – Brotherly/Sisterly Love

The Ascent

Grab hold,
And take this hand that
Reaches out to you.

Look up
Into my eyes;
My spirit

Cries out to you:
Friendship is my thought.

Let us climb
The jagged cliffs of life
And fight the ascent of

Opposition together.

If I can lift you today,
You will look back
And grab the hands of a thousand more.

That is the way
The Great Spirit would have it!

-Howard Rainer, Native American Poet

This beautiful poem was shared by a patient whose grandfather sent it to him as a prayer. It so perfectly expresses the essence of our topic last Friday: Step 8 and Brotherly/Sisterly Love. This poem also reminded me of those comforting words from page 164 of The Big Book often read at meetings:

"Abandon yourself to G-d as you understand G-d. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May G-d bless you and keep you - until then."

"It is the beginning of the end of isolation from our fellows and from G-d."

"Having thus cleared away the debris of the past, we consider how, with our newfound knowledge of ourselves, we may develop the best possible relations with every human being we know."

- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

In our groups, we asked the patients what brotherly/sisterly love looks like in the world and right here, right now in treatment. Responses included:

  • "This kind of love is like the love you have for your siblings especially when we're young – you just love them with no judgments, no questions. You love them and accept them because they're a part of you."
  • "Playing Saturday morning basketball."
  • "Making a fellow patient a meal."
  • "Folding my roommate’s laundry."
  • "Helping an old man in the grocery store. It felt right."
  • "Helping and volunteering in the community."

Other questions we asked the patients were:

  • Are you living Spiritually? What does that mean to you?
  • Can we have brotherly/sisterly love without forgiveness?

Before we moved into our small groups to discuss the questions, we began sharing in our large group.

We talked about meditation, the different ways to meditate, and finding a way that's right for you. I played a video and suggested listening to the words – being aware of the beauty of the Earth and being present to the prayer was their meditation. Many of our patients see their Higher Power as the power that is expressed in and through nature, so I thought they would enjoy this and they did.

There was a powerful example of brotherly love in the news that I played for our patients. I encouraged them to really think about how they can be instruments of love – it's so easy to do so with a smile, a kind word, a prayer, even for someone you see on the street.

"It seems there is no end to the creative ways we humans can find to hurt each other and no end to the reasons we feel justified in doing so. There is also no end to the human capacity for healing. In each of us, there is an innate ability to create joy out of suffering, to find hope in the most hopeless of situations, and to heal any relationship in need of healing." - Desmond Tutu

Lastly, we spoke of brotherly/sisterly love – a love without judgment, refraining from “contempt prior to investigation.” The patients opened up honestly about ways in which they judge and then I played this video:

The message is so powerfully clear in this ad. Every negative feeling you hold toward another has a boomerang effect. It's impossible to judge or blame others and not direct emotional pain towards ourselves. How are you living, right here, right now? How are you loving your recovery family?

I love this anonymous quote: "My friends are the beings through whom G-d loves me."

Make friends, be a friend, love your brother and your sister, and let G-d love you.


Reverend Laurie Durgan