July 21, 2017
I read some beautiful words last week that really touched me. The first quote from the Big Book, page 75, on completing Step 5:
"We can be alone at perfect peace. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have spiritual experiences."
And from an AA pamphlet called "Many Paths To Spirituality" from Bill Wilson (1965):
"Newcomers are approaching A.A. at the rate of tens of thousands yearly. They represent almost every belief and attitude imaginable. We have atheists and agnostics. We have people of nearly every race, culture and religion. In A.A. we are supposed to be bound together in a kinship of common suffering. Consequently, the full individual liberty to practice any creed or principle or therapy whatever should be a first consideration for us all. Let us not therefore, pressure anyone with our individual or collective views. Let us instead accord each other the respect and love that is due to every human being as he tries to make his way toward the light".
Both of these quotes made me think about our patients – how many of them are having spiritual experiences and not recognizing them as such. There are indeed so many paths to spirituality, including the love and light that Bill so beautifully reminds us of.
So to encourage the patients, we asked that how they answer these questions – that cannot be wrong. Our most important work on Spiritual Fridays is to create a safe, comfortable and affirming space for the patients to explore, question, and express their spiritual beliefs.
What does the word "spiritual" mean to you?
What does a "spiritual" experience feel like?
Can you be spiritual but not live spiritually?
What are you doing to nurture and grow your spirituality?
Can a painful or traumatic experience be a spiritual experience?
One of the patients explained a spiritual experience:
"I always walk around residence and think, “why am I in South Florida, why do I have to be here? The other day, for some reason I don't know, I just noticed like for the first time all the beautiful plants, trees, flowers and thought why do I get to be in South Florida?”
And another shared...
"I remember one night sitting with my dog, realizing how much I loved him and thought, how can anything be so perfectly beautiful inside and out?”
"I saved someone from drowning once. I was so scared, then the 'Hail Mary' just came to my lips. I said the prayer while I saved a life."
The word "spiritual" means to me:
"holiness, love, compassion, kindness, mindfulness, peace, awe, honesty, science, light.”
Just For Today: Spiritual Awakening
"How will I know when I have had a spiritual awakening? For many of us, a spiritual awakening comes gradually. Perhaps our first spiritual awareness is as simple as a new appreciation for life. Maybe one day we'll suddenly discover the sounds of birds singing early in the morning. The simple beauty of a flower may remind us that there is a Power greater than ourselves at work around us.
Often, our spiritual awakening is something that grows stronger over time. We can strive for more spiritual awareness simply by living our lives. We can persist in efforts to improve our conscious contact through prayer and meditation on a daily basis. We can listen within for the guidance we need. We can question other addicts about their experiences with spirituality. We can take time to appreciate the world around us."
I've linked three videos we enjoyed. The first a scientific approach to spirituality by Neil deGrasse Tyson who shared that "our atoms came from stars. That yes, we are part of the Universe. We are in the Universe, but most important the Universe is in us."
Then we listened to India Arie, "I Am Light".
And finally, Louie Schwartzberg's TED talk on Gratitude.
Please give yourself a few minutes to be blessed by these. They are each powerful, beautiful and spiritually inspiring in so many ways.
"During my life I have met some of the kindest people who don't consider themselves spiritual at all. Yet their approach to life comes from a deep caring and concern for all human beings. It comes from basic kindness. That is what spirituality is all about. It’s about our deep connections. It isn't about what gender we think God is, or whether we even think God exists or what rituals we perform or the creeds we profess. It is experiencing and acting from our deep connections. It is often done quietly with no fanfare. People who are deeply spiritual don't call attention to themselves, but quietly go about expressing what comes naturally to them, loving kindness. It is a friendliness to all life. This is the best care we can give ourselves, to give love. The more love we give, the more we are open to receiving, and the more we receive the more we have to give."
~ Diane Mariechild
Ahhhhhh, so beautiful! I'm so grateful for the One who connects us, inspires us, and Who has brought us together – in this moment.