The more I investigate, the more I realize that what we know is only a scratch on the surface of truth, of what Einstein called the “persistent illusion” of reality. When I open myself up to even just the ‘possibility’ of there being something out there greater than myself, I also open myself up to perceiving the wonders that surround us always but that we don’t always notice as we make our busy way through life.
A friend at a meeting this morning talked about going for a hike with his brother to a water fall. The trek was much more arduous than they had expected. When they finally arrived, it because a mystical experience for one of them. As they drew closer they heard the sound becoming more and more intense until the cascade slowly revealed itself through the undergrowth of the trees. My buddy saw how the sun was beaming light down through the trees and the mist rising from the water as it hit the rocks on the way down to a blue pool below. He felt the spray, watched the butterflies and took the whole thing in as a Higher Power moment. For his brother, it was a nice waterfall, but it held nothing of the spiritual aspect. Two people, two points of view of the same experience.
Our experience of anything depends upon our perspective and past experiences. Perhaps it’s my bias, but I believe that those of us who have been through difficult times and are making our way through recovery have to, perhaps, work harder than others to see the beauty of things and the wonders of the people and the world around us. Perhaps it’s because we were so wrapped up in ourselves, our ego and our disease that we couldn’t see it before. Perhaps we’re no different than anyone else. But it is important to take the time to look outside of ourselves to stand in awe and appreciate what is happening around us at any particular time. And even if you don’t wish to attribute what you see or what happened to you to your Higher Power, you can still appreciate the ‘miracle’ of it all.
During this time of year, we tend to see more positive things happening around us because our perspective has changed around the holidays and we expect to see the miracle of Christmas. I believe that these things are always happening around us. Every day there are wonders and sights to behold that will cause us to pause if we look for them. If you want to take the magic of Christmas with you through the whole year, then take this attitude with you. Miracles don’t only happen one day a year, or on 42nd Street in NYC or in Bedford Falls with Jimmy Stewart realizing that he’s the ‘richest man in town’. They around around us all the time. But we have to look for them.
From a sunny and hot Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, (don’t be too jealous), I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ¡Feliz Navidad!
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Shakespeare, Hamlet
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
Remember when we were kids we were given a colouring book with numbered dots. We had to connect those dots by following the numbers and create a picture. Sometimes we could sort of figure out what it was supposed to be and sometimes it wasn’t until the final connection was made that we could see the result. In life we are given just the dots and they aren’t numbered. How do I know which dot is next in the sequence? I don’t. I have to trust the process, trust in something other than me that is guiding me to what I need to connect to next.
Retrospectively I can see where I have gone. If I had had a choice, I would have preferred not to have gone through some of the things in my past, before and after recovery. A few things that happened I never want to repeat and wouldn’t wish upon anyone. However, all of them, yes ALL, have brought me to this point that I am at right now and I am very happy.
Step Four allowed me to look back on my life to see the picture created by the dots that had already been connected. I saw the good, the bad and the really ugly. My sponsor helped me to see how everything that happened was part of what had brought me to that moment. Today, if something comes along that throws a wrench into my idea or plan for the future? I’ve learned to trust the process. I trust that while I might not recognize where I am or know the direction I’m headed, I know that I will eventually see how this moment fits into place.
Sometimes I’m certain that I am sure ‘have’ to go in a certain direction, but I can’t find the dot I think I’m suppose to connect to. Am I projecting ahead, trying to force things to be as ‘I’ think they should be? Perhaps I need to trust life and trust that the next dot will make itself known. If I can look back and see how everything fit together, then why would I doubt tomorrow; things in my life will continue to fall into place when and as they should.
Trust your recovery. Trust the proven tools you have been given in your program. Put your faith in something other than yourself. Know that the dots will connect to the final mosaic of life and it will be a beautiful work of art.
I’ve spent a lot of my life wanting and trying to have the ultimate spiritual experience. You know, that mountain top experience where you become one with everything and everything makes perfect sense. A glimpse at the bliss of Seventh Heaven or the special touch of an angel; an experience that would forever alter my existence. It still eludes me.
I know I am not alone. Most of us would like this type of experience that we sometimes read about or have recounted to us. Some gurus tell us that if only we would go to this place, sit this way and chant this ancient saying, it will magically happen to us. If it were true we would all be in a floating bliss. I think the only thing that would help me achieve it would probably give me the munchies, so I’m not going to try that. The thing about those “mountain top experiences” is we don’t live on the mountain top. We have to come down and continue our lives. Gradually the electric current that lit up our minds begins to fade and we long for another ‘fix’ to connect with the Universe.
What I have experienced however, is the spiritual awakening of the educational variety. It’s one that gradually pervades my body, mind and spirit. Through working the twelve steps of recovery I have had a spiritual awakening that we hear about in Step Twelve. It started with the realization that it’s not all about me and continues through living the steps. I am constantly growing in contact with Consciousness, or whatever you wish to call your Higher Power. For me, the steady growth in awareness doesn’t carry with it the need for a regular fill up. The steady drip by drip of awareness allows me to take in what I need in smaller increments so that I can understand and internalize the whole process better.
I’ve learned that the slower I learn things, the deeper it can penetrate and the easier I can incorporate it into my day to day life. It’s like those times when folks make a whole pile of New Year’s Resolutions. Once one goes by the wayside, it’s very easy for the others to slip off as well. But if we make just one that we are truly committed to, then there’s a far better chance that we will create a new habit that will last a lifetime. Slow and steady she goes.
Working drip by drip to increase my awareness I become more aware as well of those around me. What I have learned has to be shared. And in the sharing, my own knowledge deepens further. This is our program, not mine alone. I seek, learn, grow, share with others and then repeat the process.
I’m not saying that I would not welcome being struck by lightening and having a celestial experience. I think it would be pretty neat. But I am not going to feel incomplete if I never have one. If it requires sitting in the lotus position for several months under a bodhi tree in quiet meditation, it definitely won’t ever happen. But the same teachings about body, mind and spirit can still be learned one step at a time. With patience, I believe we can all get to our Nirvana.