Note to self (Early November): "go check out that whole religious thing"
Where to begin...? Well, I was attending a fundraiser dinner a few weeks ago in which one of the speakers (A famous Doo-Wop singer with over 40 years sober) was espousing on how religion has given direction to his spirituality. For some reason this chimed within me and a new curiosity; if not an out-rite thirst made itself quietly apparent inside of me. Allow me some background...
I was raised in the Catholic Church. I was in the choir until my voice changed and was an altar boy until walking up to the front of my high school for my 1st day of freshman year...where a tall redheaded junior-class girl smiled at me and seemed very approachable. I said, "Hi" as I walked up; to which she responded, "Didn't I see you on the altar last week" and laughed at me. I was embarrassed to say the least. It was immediately apparent to me that if I was to have any chance with the girls I was going to need to ditch anything that didn't just reek of coolness.
Much to the chagrin of the priest that was mentoring me, I withdrew from the altar boy ranks. It was to be the preliminary round of a gradual withdrawal of my civic, athletic and religious activities over that 1st year of high school. (And yes, I did get the girl). That priest would often catch me kissing in the hallways and was very adept at disengaging me from my kissing-mate by pinching my ear with two very strong fingers and very assertively reminding me who was Sheriff. Ah....fond memories.
So, back to religion. My parents were both very active in the church and my mother had a very intimate experience involving the Sacrament of Communion when she has young. It forever altered her life and she has a level of personal faith that I both respect and admire. I never had such an experience in that setting and as is typical to hear from someone of my generation I came to see that God was somewhere far off and not particularly interested in my exploits for the most part.
Let me state at this point how annoyed I get when I hear someone label themselves as "Recovering Catholics". Unless one was a victim of what has become a highly publicized problem of abuse of young boys and men, I have never seen religion as a disease or something that required recovery from. One other exception might be that of fundamentalist extremists such as those that send their woman to blow themselves up in the name of God, but there again this is a human condition or sickness and one I believe has little to do with God in all actuality.
Here is an excerpt from the AA Big Book from page 49 of the chapter, "We Agnostics" that I have found a new appreciation for of late:
"We, who have threaded this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion. We have learned that whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be, those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions. People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about. Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever. We used to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices when we might have observed that many spiritually-minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves."
-Indeed; having attended a local church for a couple of weeks now I do wish I had ventured into the hallowed doorway of God's House sooner, but alas the teacher arrives when the student is ready. Amazingly enough I wasn't struck by lightening upon entering the threshold and was wonderfully surprised by a service in which I both laughed and cried and one in which I felt totally at ease.
I am very aware of the pitfall that many a newcomer has been beset upon by...that of trading the practical 12 Step journey and fellowship of meetings for the temporary feel-good raincoat of religion. Quite the opposite; I have discovered that my newfound fellowship and worship dovetails perfectly with my endeavors in AA.
Balance.....hmmmm....perhaps it's not so elusive after all. Apparently those old-timers knew what they were talking about after all. So, I'll leave you with a heartfelt and sincere wish for a blessed Thanksgiving for you and your families; and with a Quote from page 155 of, "As Bill Sees It"
"We give thanks to our Heavenly Father, who through so many friends and through so many means and channels, has allowed us to construct this wonderful edifice of the spirit in which we are now dwelling - this cathedral whose foundations rest upon the corners of the earth.
On its great floor we have inscribed our Twelve Steps of recovery. On the side walls, the buttresses of the AA Traditions have been set in place to contain us in unity for as long as God may will it so.
Eager hearts and minds have lifted the spire of our cathedral into its place. That spire bears the name of Service. May it ever point straight upward toward God."