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Like savory stew simmering over a low fire, so does Richard Rohr’s Breathing Under Water – Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (2011) excite my appetite for deeper union with my God.

Decades of ministering to the afflicted, beset by stinking thinking, led this Franciscan priest to study the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous by attending meetings in the church basement across the alley from which he lived in the 1970s. No matter that he did not suffer from alcoholism, so easily did his new friends welcome him into their spiritual fellowship. Inherent within their practice of the 12 Steps were Gospel teachings of healing releasing them from the bondage of addiction and filling them with zest for life. Rohr seized upon this synchronicity and continued listening.

Further refinement of this paradigm led Rohr to equate the disease of addiction with sin: our divisiveness from God, others, and ourselves. He also saw the 12 Steps mirrored in the three paths of classical Western spirituality: Purgation, Illumination, and Union: willingness to name hidden sins in our unconscious, willingness to purge them from our thinking and choices, willingness to make amends to those we’ve harmed, and willingness to carry this message of deliverance to others.

This simple practice entails arduous work, given our slothful natures. Without the support of Higher Power’s influence within sponsorship and fellowship, we flounder.

“This book is for you,” reads the dedication page, and so it is. Our powerlessness before life on life’s terms—even the pandemic—makes this so.

Daily blogging continues building a foundation within my psyche, intimately related to living with terminal illness. Still far from its acceptance, I am no longer at odds with it, even name fresh insights into this mystery, grace. Each day that passes, the urgency to compose deepens as I discover my authentic self for the first time in my life. Curious, that I never have to root around for something to write about. It just comes.

Such requires listening for precise words at any time of day or night, entering them into my word processor, revising phrases and punctuation for more effectiveness, and scrapping drafts of pieces in favor of more exact renderings. Such requires a consciousness that I rarely activated before the onset of my terminal illness, and with it, a strange energy that sustains my chronic fatigue.

As months pass I’m aware of having discarded concepts, attitudes, and some behaviors that no longer serve me. Upon this foundation-in-process, I stand with a newfound confidence and consider my end time; I discern and welcome Precious God’s coaching from significant others, from dreams, and from CPA’s 12 Step work with my sponsor. Daily, I surrender the outcome.

In this process, Jesus’s parable about foundations also speaks to me. He likened persons who came to him, listened to his words, and acted upon them to builders securing their homes upon rock beds, lest floods destroy them: to accomplish this, they had to dig very deep. Some mornings beyond exhaustion, I still compose, but lean heavily upon my foundation teeming with Light.

And another blog happens for my ongoing instruction. My gratitude is boundless.

 

 

 

“If you love the truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sun will illuminate you in God.”—a trenchant saying attributed to Isaac the Syrian, the seventh-century Bishop, theologian, and monk who the Eastern Orthodox Church regards as a saint.

Simple words, if pondered, reveal the unseen caught in the flux of time. Key to this process is passion, whose firelight, like the sun, ignites inner worlds. But who cares to go there? To discipline unruly instincts clamoring for expression? That would be like dying. Such flies in the face of our cultural mores, engulfed in denial and rationalization. The predictable is more comfortable, yet soulless.

It does not take much to see who is truly alive among us: their quickening gaze, their resonant voices, their authority, of whatever age and background.

That’s what happens when you sit in the fire. It works…

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