You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘12 Steps of AA and CPA’ tag.

At 6:10 A.M., I awoke with this affirming dream:

Advent will soon arrive and our group plans our annual project. Instead of buying holiday gifts for loved ones, we will bake pastries in each other’s kitchens, Mondays after work—Of little concern that no one knows how to bake.

After our first Monday gathering, we step back from the mess: sinks filled with soiled pots and utensils, counters crammed with half-opened ingredients and stained cookbooks, floors pastiched with icing and brown sugar. What looks like a plate of chocolate chip cookies sits near the oven. My crocs make stickery sounds as I join the others with a bucket of water and mop; disheartened, we clean into the night.

On subsequent Mondays, some progress brightens our moods: Pastries are beginning to resemble the pictures in the cookbooks.

Our final Monday yields holiday boxes of pastries, unique in taste, design, and decorations. We’re glad to share.

I liken this dream to my daily practice of recovery found in Recipe for Recovery: A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous (cookbooks). Its format resembles a cookbook, with Ingredients, Description, Directions, Preparation, and What It Looks Like. Working this program requires willingness to reeducate our psyches from less-than responses learned earlier in life. Such conscious work also benefits others.

The dream opens with the season of Advent, a four-week arduous preparation for the Christmas mysteries. Similarly in CPA, the penitential climate of Advent informs the practice of the Twelve Steps, a lifelong practice.

Our group symbolizes the spiritual fellowship that consciously takes on this challenging project, with Higher Power’s help. Kitchens represent CPA’s website and the varied sites—phone or Zoom—where meetings are held. Our first Monday gathering reveals deep willingness in the group’s initial efforts to mix/blend/simmer ingredients which flop. Even more is this willingness demonstrated in cleaning up the kitchen. No matter that my crocs will be soiled; they can be hosed down, and I’ll return the following Monday with the others.

The mess stands for Step One, the powerlessness and unmanageability of our lives. Some progress speaks to the beginnings of changed behaviors and attitudes that keep us humble and teachable.

Thus, Holiday boxes of pastries represent the joy of living with Higher Power, now and even more so in the next life. And the final Monday, the last day of this mortal life.  

My gladness is deep


“Hello! I’m looking for Laura. Has she left the office yet”? I asked raising my voice as loud as I could. In this afternoon’s mail, she had sent me a form requiring my signature and date, before mailing it to the IRS.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you. Can you speak louder?” A tad of irritation shadowed his words, impatient to close the office for the day. After several attempts to be heard, I said I’d call back tomorrow and hung up the receiver, pissed.

Evidence of another symptom of my terminal illness irks me: insufficient air in my diseased lungs to sustain normal speech, even while wearing continuous oxygen and taking morphine and nebulizer treatments to slow down the collapse of the air sacs in my lungs. Exhaustion is another component. Eventually, I could lose my speech.

The irony of such a loss weighs heavy upon me, especially since I only began to speak when three years old; an older brother mimicked my total development, so, I did nothing—too terrified to go out on my own, I just imitated others’ speech and behaviors when I had to. Decades of unfortunate choices followed until I began dream analysis in 1988 and AA in 1991. Through the help of others, I began to wake up to my inner gifts with their unique expression—Even more so, when encouraged to begin writing.

Now when I desire to converse deeply with others, I’m severely limited. Writing does help, but face-to-face sharing strikes hot coals, and in their warming, phenomenal learning.

I still flinch when someone says they can’t hear me. If I don’t replace my anger with Step Three: Made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him, I stay mired in self-pity and that’s never worked. Precious God is bringing me home according to his plan, not mine. There’s no other way around this.

“I sense a change in my symptoms that suggests a corresponding change in my hospice care,” I hear my raspy voice say, the words, though clearly my own, feel like they’re describing someone else. My lung disease’s exhaustion and weakness feel kin to physical pain, one of the last phases of my disease. Denial has no place here as I make my way home.

Across from the wing-back chair in my study sits Eunice who continues companioning me toward the demise of my old body. Her eager nod immediately reaches into my depths and confirms this new truth in vigorous tones, unlike she’s expressed with me in the past. In the realm of chaplain, she is master; she knows when and how to respond to her hospice patients, when they’re near to striking gold.

Again, it has happened: Precious God speaking to me through others: this time, through Eunice.

I step back from these foreign words, yet strangely intimate and ruminate on their implications.  

Gladness fills me.

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: