I have been homeless at this time of year, not for long, but enough to scare me out of my smugness. I’ve also known addiction, the dole, depression and a terrible spiritual emptiness.
I have felt that God, if he existed, had dumped me. Everyone else certainly had.
Yet today I’m clean and sober and happy. I’ve been like that for a while. It’s a Miracle. Nothing else.
The lunatic in the asylum who stops beating his head with a hammer is deliriously joyful. After thirty years of self-destructive behaviour, I know exactly how that feels.
How did this change happen? I don’t know, but spirituality was involved.
I needed help from others, to crush pride and dishonesty out of my ego with a ruthless zeal, to stop bad attitudes and behaviours. But change happened, it wasn’t just a nice idea. That is the Miracle. All I had to do was open my mind to one idea – spirituality.
I came to realise that spirituality could give me a power that was a mixture of inspiration, insight, unselfishness, self-worth, hope and motivation; in other words, a huge ethereal kick up the arse which empowered me to change from passive to proactive and from victim to winner.
Recovery is the end of a horror movie when the lights come on. American beat generation poet Allen Ginsberg used a lot of drugs in his life. He put the experience like this:I never dreamed the sea so deep, The earth so dark; so long my sleep. I have become another child. I wake to see the world go wild. (An Eastern Ballad)
Yet so many people resist spirituality. It seems a customary response whenever the word God comes up. Poor God, he’s only trying to help! Why not give it a shot? After all, ‘my way’ hasn’t proved too clever.
Perhaps people think that spirituality involves surrender and therefore a show of weakness. I felt that, at first. It helped me to see the opposite view, put by French thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
AA introduced spirituality into addiction recovery for a reason: It takes us away from our self-obsession; we are not alone in our struggles – help is available. This discovery saved my life and I am grateful.
It gives us a brilliant new life where anything is possible and new worlds with names like hope, love and gratitude are there to be explored. Stop fighting spirituality, because it meets a basic need within us. We come from nowhere and we go to nowhere but just possibly, that nowhere might be somewhere. Would it be too gut-wrenchingly difficult to say a prayer of gratitude this Christmas?
Photo by Greg Weaver