By: Vince DiPasquale
Many of us spend a great deal of time trying to figure out the battle between the ego and the spirit. I’ve often said that the most dangerous part of our body is our head. I call it the control tower. It’s so frustrating to try to answer the question “why” our Creator sent us on a mission into this world. The Creator gave us free will so that we can hopefully make healthy decisions to serve others. Our ego gets us confused when we think we have the answers. So many times we think we are in control when our ego is in charge and God can’t be. We have a simple definition of EGO in our recovery program, “Ease God out”. Sometimes we get so caught up in playing God that we forget who is in charge.
If you have raised children, you remember the “why” stage. They ask us why, we try to explain and then they ask, “Why”? They don’t want an explanation because they are in a state of wonderment. Children are the closest to God’s spirit because life is so simple to them. They are all about let’s play and have fun. They are still discovering the newness of life. Their minds are in the world of simplicity. As they grow older they start their journey of seeking answers and direction. They finally reach that worldly stage where they want everything to be their way. In time they think they know everything.
I can still remember when I was in my twenties, and I thought I had all of the answers. I also remember when I was 26 years old, the year of my ordination; I was ready to take on the world and save it. By the way, I didn’t need any help, after all I was in my God stage. My pride and ego took over and I forgot the simplicity of the child. I started playing the blame game. I was going to change the world. The church and I were going to tell everyone how to live their lives. I was so busy on my crusades that I forgot the most important person in the world, me.
As I entered my 30’s I started to get tired and was beginning to reach a burnout stage. God sent many teachers into my life and slowly and gradually I began to discover some of life’s questions hearing that “why” again. I began to ask the ultimate “Who am I?” “What’s my life’s journey?” “Where am I heading?” All of these questions will take a lifetime to answer. That led me to my 37th birthday and the next stage of my journey.
When I opened the doors of the Starting Point in South Philadelphia, I was in a total state of confusion. I was on the journey into my 40’s when I began to realize there were no answers. So during my 40’s through the gift of recovery and the wonderful knowledge of our 12 spiritual steps, I was being led on a journey of learning to let go and to begin to discover the spirit in all of us. I had to experience my dark night of the soul. In my confusion and struggle I was finally discovering the gift of faith and trust. Through the help of God’s human angels, teachers and the principles of this program as I approached my 50’s, I realized I was no longer in charge. My Higher Power was patient with me and continued to help me to realize how important and special life is and I began to feel the gift of gratitude. It’s so funny how life works and how it is a process of discovery and learning. Now I realize that life begins at 50. Fifty is the turning point. If we continue to live in the ego we will never enjoy life or its rewards.
We must try to be open to the spirit. Now I understand what Saint Paul meant in his Epistle. “The letter of the law destroys, the spirit sets you free.” The more you trust in the Higher Power and have faith the more you will be led to where you are supposed to go on your journey. As I reached my 60’s and now my 70’s I realize that life is supposed to be lived not figured out. It’s time to let it all hang out. I’m beginning to understand the saying “Don’t worry, be happy.” It took me a while. I had to go on the journey of beating myself up, getting very frustrated and living a very unhealthy life to finally begin to awaken.
Let me tell you a story of how we are not in charge. This is part of my spiritual awakening. In 1978 I was having lunch at a rehab in Northeast Philadelphia. During lunch one of the therapists, Bill P., invited me to give a lecture at the rehab. I asked Bill, “What do you want me to talk about?” He said, “Spirituality”. Don’t ask me why but I said yes. I prayed and talked for fifty minutes. When I was done Bill said I was good, and he asked me if I would come back once a month to give the lecture again. I said I would but I didn’t remember what I said at the lecture. He told me he had taped it and I listened to the tape on my way home. From that talk I started on a journey of learning how to love and care for myself. Since then, God has continued to send many teachers into my life including my wife, stepdaughters, and my grandchildren. Today I don’t ask why too many times. I just try to be open to God’s will and not mine. Be aware that all of us are being led. Let’s learn during this month just to have faith and try to be open to life’s journey. We are all teachers and pupils to each other. Live life, celebrate the moment and share the gift of yourself and you will receive back a hundredfold. We are all God’s children. Keep life simple and when we do ask why, know that it is just life’s lessons to be learned. Enjoy the summer and let the little kid in you out. Remember we are all free spirits, and we were born to be part of our Creator’s plan. May God bless us all!
A Prayer to God
The Spirit of All the World
“O God, Great Spirit of all the world, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all living things: hear me! I am small and weak; I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the setting sun. Make my hands respect the things you have made and make my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught your people. Let me learn the lesson you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I seek strength, not to be greater than my brothers and sisters, but to fight my greatest enemy: myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. And when life fades, as the fading sunset, may my spirit come before you without shame”. (Native American Prayer)