By: Vince DiPasquale
The 11th Step of AA teaches us one of the most basic principles of life’s journey. In order to be able to be open to the lessons of life, we need to develop the tools necessary for the journey. Let’s look at the gifts that are offered to us in this special step of recovery. The tools we are going to share are prayer, meditation, gratitude and openness. These are the secrets to a peaceful and fruitful life. Let’s take a moment and reflect on each of these.
Prayer: The secret of communicating with the God of our understanding. As human beings, the word prayer takes on many forms. A friend of mine gave me a gift of an interfaith prayer book. It contains prayers from many different belief systems. Yet they all have one thing in common, they are calling upon a Higher Power for help and understanding. When I think of prayer, four types come into my mind. Remember “baby” prayer which is: give me, give me what I want. It wants material things. This is normal for little children wanting everything to be all right all of the time. The second type is “let’s make a deal” prayer. Did you ever notice that when we are in a jam we ask God to get us out of the jam, so we promise we’ll do the following twenty things for Him. When we are in trouble we can make some truly, crazy promises. The third type is “plea bargaining” prayer. Once we are out of trouble we say, “God, you don’t really expect me to do all of that, can I do just a couple?” The fourth type of prayer is what I call “prayer of the spirit” or prayer which allows us to speak from our hearts and cores. A little Italian street person who stayed at our halfway house arrived with all of his worldly possessions in two shopping bags. I gave him a bunk and watched him unpack. He took out an old broken down Crucifix with the Lord’s image, bent with two arms hanging and put it on the side of the nightstand. I asked him, “What’s that?” He said, “That the Boss!” Every day I talk to him. Some days when I am hurting, I scream at Him and even call Him names. I can really get angry sometimes, but I always thank Him for listening to me. No matter what, I know He always listens.” This is prayer of the spirit. The prayer comes from the true spirit and feelings of the person. This is real prayer and honest communication with our Higher Source.
We are taught “Ask and you shall receive”. I truly believe that the spirit of our Creator walks with us every moment of our journey, but we are given free will, we have choices. Yet all we have to do is ask for His help. All of the great spiritual teachers, St. August, St. Theresa, St. Francis, Dr. King, Gandhi and many more taught that prayer is our way of communicating with the god of our understanding. Let’s all pray every day to be open to God’s messengers and teachers.
Meditation: Once again a practice that can take many faces. To learn how to meditate is to learn how to be quiet and to be open to listen to god’s messages. Take the time to reflect, wonder and to listen to our inner voices speaking. Daily meditation books are a great way to begin and end our day. So many times, just being open to the message in the readings speaks volumes to us. I know on a personal level the codependency meditations in “The Language of Letting Go” have touched so may areas of my life’s journey. There are many formal ways to meditate, which different religious and spiritual groups use, and they are effective for all. Each one of us must learn what works best for us. There is no one way. The secret to meditation is just to learn how to enjoy our own company and allow the spirit to flow through us. Often, we are busy with so many things that we can’t see the beauty in us and in those around us. Just take time to enjoy the simple wonders of the world. The ancient Indian tribes believed in the beauty of the world. They spent so much time outdoors and they learned to appreciate God’s nature. They looked at the sky as father protector, the earth as mother where they would be nurtured and fed. They respected and honored all of nature. They were in touch with their inner spirit and that of the Great Spirit, their creator. They can teach all of us to have a sense of quiet and inner peace. Try this exercise; close your eyes and visualize yourself surrounded by a golden light of peace and serenity. Then as you bathe yourself in the golden light visualize coming towards you the pink light of God’s love and energy. As you walk the journey of life with all of life’s challenges, know that deep within us the power of love and serenity is there if we take the time to discover it. We’re all of God’s creations. He has given us all this great spirit of serenity and love. Take time to be quiet, to listen and to be open to the messages of the universe.
Life is a journey with a round trip ticket. Let’s take time to smell the roses. Prayer and meditation are two of the greatest gifts God has given us. They allow us to be still and learn to listen and be open to the journey. We have so much to discover and experience in life. Our Creator is trying to teach us. Pray every day just to be open to God’s will and the willingness to carry it out. During this month of transition follow this simple formula for life.
When you wake up be grateful you’ve been given the gift of life. On your knees, pray for gratitude and to be open. Try to look at all the lessons you’ve been taught with a positive attitude. Do service to others and know that all will work out according to Gods plan and in God’s time. Be patient, pray, meditate and the golden light of peace and serenity followed by the pink light of love will shine upon you.
Enjoy this season of transition and change. May all of us be blessed each day by the God of our understanding.