“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Pages 59-60 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Welcome to a three part series on Step 12. It’s December after all. 12 steps, 12 months, blah, blah, blah. If you haven’t been to a Step 12 meeting thus far this month, perhaps you haven’t been to enough meetings. Just saying. “Meeting makers make it.” (Groan.) But it’s kinda true. So pony up, and show up.
Spiritual awakening? Whatever. I just want to stop drinking. Shut up about God. Tell me how to stop drinking and I’ll be on my way, thankyouverymuch. But despite ourselves, it happens – this spirituality thing; provided we actually DO work all the steps. For some people, it happens in that awe inspiring moment when they know somehow, someway, they’ve been blessed/reborn/radically changed/transported/awakened. And they run with it. SWEET! And they DO go merrily on their way, some to keep that awakening and others to lose it quickly when life doesn’t treat them right. For other people, it seems to grow in small ways through surprising victories in a change of attitude; I didn’t lose my temper today, the sunlight hit the lake just right and I “felt” a presence where I used to feel none, the planets aligned and the moon and stars were in the exact right place and I don’t want to drink. And they say to themselves, “Maybe this spirituality thing is working after all.” Other people slump around in meetings wondering why their planets aren’t aligned and they haven’t “felt” spiritual yet – secretly hating those who share their wondrous joy at having “gotten it” at meetings and with everyone else who will listen. Just shut up already.
No matter how it happens, it tends to happen. Provided we actually DO work all the steps. Oops. Did I just say that again? Yes. Yes, I did. Because step 12 says “as a result of.” Those awe inspired people? They tend to lose that awe if they don’t stay the course. The small victory people? Again, they start to take for granted that those moments will continue to come whether they work the steps or not. Here’s the deal. We have been trying to fill a bottomless pit in our souls with alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, success, power, money, you name it. It will always be a bottomless pit unless you put what belongs in it – a sense of purpose and meaning which comes from a spiritual awakening. And we have moments when we know it’s filled; for a moment, a day, a month, a year. And we get complacent, thinking it’s there for good. But it’s a bottomless pit. We have to fill it over and over and over through our practice of the steps.
It’s hard to talk about spirituality because it’s such a strangely personal thing. Everyone experiences it in a different way. It’s difficult to share with a newcomer just what is going to happen to them if they choose this way of life. But share away. Because it DOES happen. But keep feeding it, my friends. Keep feeding it.You will lose it on some days, but don’t lose it for too long. You know what it’s like to live a spiritual way of life, living without it seems empty. What are you doing to feed your spirit today?
Kate Zimmerman Alumnus #35