For the next twelve weeks, we will consider reflections of the Twelve Steps as interpreted by Richard Rohr, author of Breathing Under Water. Rohr, a Franciscan priest and author, believes in a non-dual reality, that “All Is One”. In these writings, I will offer my personal experience of “working the steps” interspersed with Rohr’s spiritual understanding of the Twelve Steps of Recovery. Rohr honors all religions and spiritual practices. In his interpretation of the Twelve Steps, Breathing Under Water, he proposes the Twelves Steps, as a divinely inspired gift to sufferers of alcoholism. As many know, these same Twelve Steps are equally effective with any and all addictive behavior, as we understand addictive behaviors are the symptom of a deeper, spiritual malady. For those familiar with the Twelve Step process of “letting go’, Rohr’s words will support their expereince; for those who may want to know more about the Twelve Steps, Rohr offers a spiritual explanation of how the change from spiritual isolation to spiritual integration happens as a result of the Twelve Step process.
My only comment here is to say I did the reading required of Step One as directed by my sponsor. I would offer I was pretty much going through the motions, fairly new to sobriety and yet knowing something within me had to change. I read The Doctor’s Opinion and More About Alcoholism like a first grader just learning how to comprehend. That said, I did have the good sense but more a desperation for something to change; what that was, I was not sure. The only thing I remember I clearly understood was as the book states, I had an allergy to alcohol, that I had what the book called the phenomenon of craving , simply put if I drank any alcohol at all I wanted more, it was not a casual relationship, it was deliberate. So, as though somehow carried along, I trusted a woman I knew only a short time to show what she had done to be free of the malady.
Please note, Inward Grace maintains a clear distinction between spirituality and religion. The Inward Grace disclaimer:
“The word ‘spiritual’ does not refer to religious matters. All activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development-physical, emotional, mental, intuitional, social–if it is in advance of her/his present state, is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of an inner divine entity.”
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol~that our live had become unmanageable.
Rohr writes: I am convinced that the spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous, as it was first called, is going to go down as the significant and authentic American contribution to the history of spirituality. With inspiration from the Holy Spirit, Bill Wilson and all the other founders, rediscovered the core teachings of Jesus and formed them into a program that could really change lives. It is the spirituality of imperfection, in contrast to Western Christianity’s emphasis on perfection, performance and willpower. Like Jesus and the Spirit (both of whom “descended”), it tells us to go downward to find God and ourselves, whereas for centuries we have been told to fly upward toward a God who had reversed direction. I believe Jesus and the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are saying the same thing but with a different vocabulary:
We suffer to get well. We surrender to win. We die to live. We give it away to keep it.
This counterintuitive wisdom will forever be avoided, until it is forced upon us by some reality over which we are powerless–and, if we are honest, we are all powerless in the presence of full Reality.
Both the gospel and the Twelve Step Program insist that the experience of powerlessness is the absolute necessary starting point for transformational healing. This is perennial wisdom. Jesus called it the Way of the Cross, and he told us to follow him on the downward journey into powerlessness. It is where we will find what is real, what lasts, and what matters. Through the crucifixion, Jesus showed us that powerlessness is the way through. It is not the end but truly the beginning.
Please feel free to reflect and share your thoughts as moved by Love. Thank you.