Thursday, 26 May 2011

Step Twelve

GospelJohn 15:9-11 

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.’

Step 12  Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

It hadn't been my intention to leave Step Twelve this long - but it has been one of those weeks - one of those weeks that I was happy to wrap up in newspaper and leave it to God to consign to the dustbin of Heaven. Then a whole lot of God-incidences made themselves known - the last being first....

I received a comment on Step Eleven from Phil at . Someone had answered a child's question "Is Jesus real?" with the answer : "Well, put it this way ; he isn't tangible." And wondered how do we convince others that Jesus is real without being pious? Good question. Don't know if this is anywhere near an answer...

We don't convince others by anything we can offer - we convince others by allowing  God to convince us - to love us as He loves his Son, even when we think we are unloveable. There is nothing harder than holding your heart open when you feel unworthy but that's what grace is for. It's a gift we cannot give ourselves - Jesus is the key. But first you have to meet him as the disciples, the women and all the saints that have gone before have met him - personally.

In a world of communication overload you would think it would be easy getting to know people but often all we do is act as exhibits; attention seekers; voices in the wilderness- counting 'friend's that we have never met, 'followers' who have never stepped in our footprints. As human beings we are always looking for relationship.  If we are fortunate (and I have been) a connection is made in the tone of a thought, a comment that means something more, a shared vision. A dialogue emerges that brings you closer - to people who are not 'tangible' but nevertheless 'real'.

If we believe God is real but not tangible - maybe we need to develop the relationship some more? Prayer and contemplation is my answer to this one - make connections, start the conversation, take time to listen. Even, as it has been this week, a real struggle; a case of just saying the words. As Julian of Norwich reminds me -

 Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it. It does good, though you feel nothing. Yes, even though you think you are doing nothing.

Strangely, praying when I feel nothing has the right result eventually, because my logical   mind asks myself 'why would I bother if I really felt nothing - what I feel is absence - which means there is something, someone who is real.'

I try to remember to carry out an examen at the end of the day. That can depend on how fast my head hits the pillow - but this week I have committed myself to the simplicity of The Serenity Prayer - a keystone of any 12 step programme - and found the full prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as we would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If we surrender to Your will,
So that we may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

And then to read a Gospel which is all about Love but equally all about Service. 'Keep my Commandments', which asks us to Love and through Love to love and serve others.

Knowing God loves me as weak and unworthy as before, gives me no choice. Struggling, again, with people this week I realised that there are things I do that I would not or could not do if the Lord was not with me. I am just not that kind, forgiving or patient. I can't take the world as it is or not try to 'fix' things - that is not me. 

But hopefully by getting, even once in a while, as far as Step Twelve I know it is not about me. I have handed myself over; done what I can to enrich others lives and have tried to stay awake to the needs of others and the self-centredness of myself - I have experienced Grace; I have experienced God and they are to be shared - as best as I can- through Love and Service.



claire said...

And you do quite a beautiful job at sharing all that you receive, Word. So you give out much.
Thank you for the full poem. Thank you for your wisdom, your honesty, and your love for Him who loves us so.

Anonymous said...

In the early days of aa one of the members came into the office and said that he had found a prayer which summed up all of the aa principles and the others agreed and so it was adopted as the aa prayer. He had found the prayer in an obituary column in the press.
The 12th step is not the end, rather the beginning of a new way of life in which the principles are practiced. In the aa literature it states that "Our next job is to grow in understanding and effectiveness" and also "God will disclose more to you and to us" so the meanings of the steps broadens and deepens if we open ourselves to God. It is also noticeable how in the literature the words used in step 12 are Love, Joy, Peace, Tolerance, Patience etc. The Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your 12th step work Mairie of passing the message. Every blessing. L+x

Word in the Hand said...

Thank you both. What you do learn from the Steps, whatever reason you have for working them, is that the journey isn't just for you. In fact the journey moves you out of yourself.
blessings m+x

Mari said...

Thank you so much Mairie for sharing these steps. I will keep there near by to reread and practice them.

God bless :)

Anonymous said...

I ask again if you would please submit a post to the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers.
It claims not to take a rigid position and has not yet referred to liberal or traditional Catholics. One post was removed because it was on research that could be considered offensive to Protestants.
As a progressive Catholic myself I would like to see all viewpoints on this new collective blog.

sattler said...

A delightful post. You put me in mind of the Stanley Hauerwas prayers I've been reading. Nothing 'pious' or falsely holy about them.

Julian's advice is profound. For a lot of my professional life I've been involved in activism around housing or homelessness. It's a revelation to know that the world will still turn without us. The idea of prayer that 'does nothing' is authentic mysticism. My friend Richard (my litmus test for all things mystical) would approve. Shalom, phil

Word in the Hand said...

Shalom, Phil and thanks. Pray for God's sake and not our own - there's a blog by itself.
I will look at the Association 'anon' although I am getting be a bit like Groucho Marx at the moment - not wanting to belong to anything that would have me... but thanks for your support- we will see what they think.
Prayers and blessings to all