What is the difference Between your experience of Existence And that of a saint?
The saint knows That the spiritual path Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually Tripping over Joy And bursting out in Laughter And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear, I am afraid you still think You have a thousand serious moves.
I choose to believe that in the translations of these ancient, graceful, joyful poems, the term "saint" can be interpreted to mean "an enlightened one," as opposed to the perhaps more western idea of the term, that of a religious individual with strict adherence to a particular canon.
I am asking God to actually show up in my life - to be a for real thing;
a kind of tangible intangible.
I don't need God
to be a noun.
An idea. I need God
to be a verb. A force.
Not in a supernatural way, like a burning bush or magic bees (but still, that would be so cool), but in the gritty, substantive way of getting into my bones.
God, I'm asking: Please take up space and make some noise.
I'm not even afraid of that request anymore
(well... hardly even).
That's an old idea, anyway, that God making some noise in my life would result in something to be afraid of.
Result in hardship? Sometimes. Maybe.
Change? Very probably.
But it's my resistance to those things (however human and natural that resistance might be) which creates the pain. I actively reject (I mean it!) the idea of some harsh task master of a God who gives hard lessons to punish me for falling short or beats me into improving.
We are surrounded by messages which exhort us to Go! Do! Achieve! Seize the day!
I have come to believe that the day often has some sharp edges to it.
Seizing the day can get you cut up, sometimes.
What if being so busy doing (achieving! earning!) what I am told I deserve (I deserve it!) is like a
What if the hypnosis of the hamster wheel keeps me too spun to accept Divine assistance with actual for real down-in-my-gut, change?
Rather than try to seize the day,
rather than be consumed with my petty successes and failures, measured on a yardstick which doesn't even actually exist,
it's better to reach for a God who is (for real) working from my inside
"I thought Will was to Grace like Laverne was to Shirley..."
Nope. Wrong will. Wrong grace.
I've heard any number of people in meetings share their confusion in sorting out will... usually it's about something like "their will" vs. "God's will."
Over the years I've certainly gone a few rounds on this question myself.
But the Big Book -- my north star, my road map for living sober -- makes it simple and clear for me:
"...It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee-Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will..." (Big Book, Chapter Six, 'Into Action,' pg. 85)
Grace is the unearned gift of relief from my alcoholism -- and ultimately my self obsession -- via a power greater than myself. The proper use of my will, when applied to God's grace, is to harness it -- all of it: my intuition, my thoughts, my experience, my emotion -- and use the gift of my sobriety and this way of life to be of service to others.
Not just in meetings. In every area of my life.
To bring to the world not the sick, spoiled child I can still sometimes be (oh God), nor the drunk (thank God), nor the dry drunk (please God)... but to bring to the world the sober man -- sobriety for me today being about so much more than physical sobriety.
(Certainly, it all starts there. All else is pointless without physical sobriety. But I aspire to live these principles beyond just putting down the drink -- the irony of course being that living these principles is what helps me not pick up the drink. It may look like a lofty aspiration -- and in one regard, maybe it is -- but it is also how a drunk maintains equilibrium and creates ballast against the pull of self-obsessive thinking -- which is so often at the root of how we justify drinking again.)
Elsewhere it says, in reference to the 12 Steps, "...what an order! I can't go through with it!"
Trying to live these principles fully in my life I remember what the Big Book says right after that: "...Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." (Big Book, Chapter Five, 'How It Works,' pg. 60)
Which translates for me into: 'Willing to grow along spiritual lines' means I will try to do things differently. I will try to do things the way AA suggests, instead of the old, fear-based ways in which I used to behave. Not "I will try to think differently." No. As has been said in many meetings -- and which blew my mind when I first heard it: I can't think my way into different (right) actions, I have to act my way into different (right) thinking.
When I do, I'm a lot less tortured.
In many ways the transformation I experience via divine grace (whatever that phrase means to you) gives me a new will. One through which I experience the real joy of being useful to others.
And as I have said before -- perhaps many times now -- and will likely say again:
This transformation is available for free, to anyone who wants it -- anyone willing -- via the 12 Steps.
Perhaps it's not the only way, but it is certainly the way that worked for me.