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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings — December 22

NA Just For Today
December 22
A New Way To Live

“When at the end of the road we find that we can no longer function as a human being, either with or without drugs, we all face the same dilemma…. Either go on as best we can to the bitter ends-jails, institutions, or death-or find a new way to live.”
Basic Text pg. 84

What was the worst aspect of active addiction? For many of us, it wasn’t the chance that we might die some day of our disease. The worst part was the living death we experienced every day, the never-ending meaninglessness of life. We felt like walking ghosts, not living, loving parts of the world around us.

In recovery, we’ve come to believe that we’re here for a reason: to love ourselves and to love others. In working the Twelve Steps, we have learned to accept ourselves. With that self-acceptance has come self-respect. We have seen that everything we do has an effect on others; we are a part of the lives of those around us, and they of ours. We’ve begun to trust other people and to acknowledge our responsibility to them.

In recovery, we’ve come back to life. We maintain our new lives by contributing to the welfare of others and seeking each day to do that better – that’s where the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Steps come in. The days of living like a ghost are past, but only so long as we actively seek to be healthy, loving, contributing parts of our own lives and the lives of others around us.

Just for today: I have found a new way to live. Today, I will seek to serve others with love and to love myself.

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Daily Reflections
December 22
PRINCIPLES, NOT PERSONALITIES

The way our “worthy” alcoholics have sometimes tried to judge the “less worthy” is, as we look back on it, rather comical. Imagine, if you can, one alcoholic judging another!
THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART, p. 37

Who am I to judge anyone? When I first entered the Fellowship I found that I liked everyone. After all, A.A. was going to help me to a better way of life without alcohol. The reality was that I couldn’t possibly like everyone, nor they me. As I’ve grown in the Fellowship, I’ve learned to love everyone just from listening to what they had to say. That person over there, or the one right here, may be the one God has chosen to give me the message I need for today. I must always remember to place principles above personalities.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 22
A.A. Thought For The Day

As we look back over our drinking careers, we must realize that our lives were a mess because we were a mess inside. The trouble was in us, not in life itself. Life itself was good enough, but we were looking at it the wrong way. We were looking at life through the bottom of a whiskey glass, and it was distorted. We could not see all the beauty and goodness and purpose in the world, because our vision was blurred. We were in a house with one-way glass in the windows. People could see us but we could not look out and see them and see what life meant to them and should mean to us. We were blind then, but now we can see. Can I now look at life as it really is?

Meditation For The Day

Fear no evil, because the power of God can conquer evil.  Evil has power to seriously hurt only those who do not place themselves under the protection of the Higher Power.  This is not a question of feeling, it is an assured fact of our experience. Say to yourself with assurance that whatever it is, no evil can seriously harm you as long as you depend on the Higher Power. Be sure of the protection of God’s grace.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that fear of evil will not get me down. I pray that I may try to place myself today under the protection of God’s grace.

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As Bill Sees It
December 22
The Step That Keeps Us growing, p.264

Sometimes, when friends tell us how well we are doing, we know better inside. We know we aren’t doing well enough. We still can’t handle life, as life is. There must be a serious flaw somewhere in our spiritual practice and development.

What, then, is it?

The chances are better than even that we shall locate our trouble in our misunderstanding or neglect of A.A.’s Step Eleven–prayer, meditation, and the guidance of God.

The other Steps can keep most of us sober and somehow functioning.  But Step Eleven can keep us growing, if we try hard and work at it continually.

Grapevine, June 1958

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Walk In Dry Places
December 22
Watching what we think
Personal Inventory.

It’s healthy for AA members to confess personal difficulties with destructive thinking. When we find ourselves becoming too irritable or impatient, it’s important to admit this in meetings or one-on-one discussions. Usually, just the admission of the problem helps solve it.

It’s only false pride that makes us think we should be “above” destructive thinking. As human beings, we’ll be susceptible to human failings no matter how long we’ve been sober.

If we continue to watch what we think, we’ll also be able to head off very serious problem before they get out of control. Far from being a sign that we’re not working the program, the practice of weeding out our current faults is the Tenth Step in action. Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting our wrongs are a safeguard against trouble.

Destructive thinking is no respecter of persons, and even as an older member, I could lapse into it today. I always have the Tenth Step, however, to get me back on track.

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Keep It Simple
December 22

It is possible to be different and still be right.
–Anne Wilson Schaef

Each of us is special. In some ways we’re all different. It’s a good thing too. We’d be bored if we were all the same. Sometimes though, we try to hide the special things about us. We don’t want to be “different.”

But the ways that we’re different makes us special. Others have a knack of fixing things. Some of us make beautiful art. Others are great with kids. Our Higher Power made us as different, as unique, as beautiful snowflakes.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, help me use my special gifts the way You want me to. Help me be thankful that You have given me something special to share with others.

Action for the Day: I’ll think of one thing about me that’s special. I’ll talk with my sponsor about it.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 22

Every person is responsible for all the good within the scope of her abilities, and no more . . .
–Gail Hamilton

We have been given the gift of life. Our recovery validates that fact. Our pleasure with that gift is best expressed by the fullness with which we greet and live life. We need not back off from the invitations our experiences offer. Each one of them gives us a chance, a bit different from all other chances, to fulfill part of our purpose in the lives of others.

It has been said that the most prayerful life is the one most actively lived. Full encounter with each moment is evidence of our trust in the now and thus our trust in our higher power. When we fear what may come or worry over what has gone before, we’re not trusting in God. Growth in the program will help us remember that fact, thus releasing us to participate more actively in the special circumstances of our lives.

When we look around us today, we know that the persons in our midst need our best, and they’re not there by accident but by Divine appointment. We can offer them the best we have–acceptance, love, support, our prayers, and we can know that is God’s plan for our lives and theirs,

I will celebrate my opportunities for goodness today. They’ll bless me in turn.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 22
ACCEPTANCE WAS THE ANSWER

– The physician wasn’t hooked, he thought–he just prescribed drugs medically indicated for his many ailments. Acceptance was his key to liberation.

One day as I sat there in the hospital, my psychiatrist walked up behind me and asked, “How’d you like to talk to the man from A.A.?” My reaction was that I’d already helped all the patients on the ward, and I still had plenty of problems of my own without trying to help some drunk from A.A. But, by the look on the psychiatrist’s face, I could tell that it would really make him happy if I agreed. So, for no better reason than to make him happy, I agreed. Very shortly, I realized that had been a mistake–when this big clown came bounding into the room, almost shouting, “My name is Frank, and I’m an alcoholic, ha-ha-ha!” I really felt sorry for him; the only thing in his life he had to brag about was the fact that he was an alcoholic. It wasn’t until later that he told me he was an attorney.

p. 414

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 22

Tradition Eight – “Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

Take the case of the club janitor and cook. If a club is going to function, it has to be habitable and hospitable. We tried volunteers, who were quickly disenchanted with sweeping floors and brewing coffee seven days a week. They just didn’t show up. Even more important, an empty club couldn’t answer its telephone, but it was an open invitation to a drunk on a binge who possessed a spare key. So somebody had to look after the place full time. If we hired an alcoholic, he’d receive only what we’d have to pay a nonalcoholic for the same job. The job was not to do Twelfth Step work; it was to make Twelfth Step work possible. It was a service proposition, pure and simple.

pp. 167-168

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Xtra Thoughts
December 22

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When The language of truth is simple.
–Czech Proverb

“Laughter is by definition healthy.”
–Doris Lessing

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your vision will become clear only when You can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
–Carl Jung

“Being quiet does not mean sacrificing productivity.”
–Jane Nelson

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 22
PERSEVERANCE

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but perseverance.”
— Samuel Johnson

Today I saw a large 200-pound man drunk in a parking lot. Last night I heard a frail mother celebrate ten years of sobriety. The difference? Perseverance. People ge what they really want in life. If you want sobriety more than anything else, are prepared to go to any lengths, then nothing will stop you. Perseverance reveals the “walk” as well as the “talk”.

Today I need to remember that what is worth having requires sacrifice and effort. God helps those who are prepared to help themselves. Today I intend to help myself to sobriety.

I pray that I may persevere through my fears towards my goal.

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Bible Scriptures
December 22

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Matthew 19:14

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
Timothy 4:12

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24

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Daily Inspiration
December 22

If you want peace and goodness in your life you must be kind and loving. Lord, may I avoid creating misery so that my life will reflect my love for You.

God’s blessings never end and His mercies are forever. Lord, may I love others as You love me.

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A Day At A Time
December 22

Reflection For The Day

Through our own experiences and the experiences of others in The Program, we see that a spiritual awakening is in reality a gift — a gift which in essence is a new state of consciousness and being. It means that I’m now on a road which really leads somewhere; it means that life is really worth living, rather than something to be endured. It means that I have been transformed in a sense that I have undergone a basic personality change — and that I possess a source of strength which I had so long denied myself. Do I believe that none come too soon to The Program — and that none return too late?

Today I Pray

I pray that I may attain that state of consciousness which transcends my everyday reality — but is also a part of it. May I no longer question the existence of God because I have touched His Being. For us who are recovering from addictions, the words reborn in the Spirit have a special, precious meaning. May I be wholly grateful to a Higher Power for leading me to a spiritual rebirth.

Today I Will Remember

Renaissance through my Higher Power.

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One More Day
December 22

What’s a joy to the one is a nightware to the other. That’s how it is today, that’s how it will be forever.
– Bertolt Brecht

Different stroke for different folks is a popular cliche, but it’s also an absolute truth which it comes to knowing people. Each of us has our own level of comfort for the activities we do and the performances we give in our lives.

we also find different levels of joy in our spiritual, social, and emotional experiences. Often, we find what we’re looking for — what we wish to find — in each situation. What’s most important is that we are able to find our own level of joy — wherever we are at that time — and claim it as belonging to us.

My joy may not be the same as someone Else’s joy, but I shall struggle on to keep the meaning of my joy alive.

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One Day At A Time
December 22
~ RISING ABOVE ~

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the major premises of our recovery program is “progress, not perfection.” No one but me expects me to be perfect. I have a history of driving myself in the quest for perfection. I’ve set goals that are so lofty that I could never acheive them. In that respect, I’m probably my own worst enemy.

However, I can also be my own best friend. I don’t have to set standards that are impossible for me to meet. In fact, we’re told we need to live one day at a time. If I can do that, then I don’t need to live up to my impossibly high standards. My goals aren’t so out-of-reach if I can see them as daily things.

What happens if I fail to meet even the “one day at a time” goal? I start over, knowing that I don’t have to stay down. I can rise up and begin again. That, for me, is the greatest thing.

One Day at a Time . . .
I will rise above my failures and shortcomings, and know that I’m making progress. I don’t have to be perfect any more.

Jeff

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day December 22

“From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things: the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals, and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery.”
–Chief Luther Standing Bear, SIOUX

The Great Spirit has six things that make up this life force. They are life, love, intelligence, soul, principle, and truth. These are the reasons the life cycle continues. None of this can be altered by man, but we can have access to these powers any time we wish. Just think about it – anytime I have a need I can access one or more of these powers.”

Oh Great Mystery, let me know how to use these powers. Today, let me love life, let me know truth, let me live by principle, and let me follow Your intelligence.

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Journey To The Heart
December 22
Practice the Power of Respect

It is a quiet power, one that caught me by surprise on my journey. I had heard about it before, but somehow, in the shuffle of life, I had forgotten it: respect.

Respect is a spiritual power, a power of the heart, one that’s closely connected to gratitude, yet somehow different. It is an attitude toward people, toward life, toward ourselves that only takes a moment to convey, yet somehow has far-reaching effects. It does more than free people to be themselves, it encourages them to be their best. It honors people, life, and the mysterious connection we each have to the Divine.

Have a series of life experiences caused you to forget respect? In your anger, did you decide that certain persons or groups of people were undeserving of respect? Has familiarity with yourself or another caused you to forget to practice respect? Let go of the past; it’s over. But your power to transform the future has just begun.

Respect and honor yourself. Respect the needs of your body, the needs of your heart, and the dictates of your soul. Respect the lives of others. Respect the gift of life. Bow in spirit to all you meet. Bow to the gifts of the universe– the sun, moon, earth, sea, and stars. Honor all that lives, the trees, the wildflowers, the eagle soaring high. The deer in the woods, the squirrel scurrying up the tree, the june bug that lights on your shoulder. Each has its place in this world. So do you.

Discover the power of respect. Then practice it often. let it change your world.

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The Language of Letting Go
December 22
Good Things Coming

Do not worry about how the good that has been planned for you will come.

It will come.

Do not worry, obsess, and think you have to control it, go out hunting for it, or tangle your mind trying to figure out how and when it will find you.

It will find you.

Surrender to your Higher Power each day. Trust your Higher Power. Then, stay peaceful. Trust and listen to yourself. That is how the good you want will come to you.

Your healing. Your joy. Your relationships. Your solutions. That job. That desired change. That opportunity. It will come to you – naturally, with ease, and in a host of ways.

That answer will come. The direction will come. The money. The idea. The energy. The creativity. The path will open itself to you. Trust that, for it has already been planned.

It is futile, a waste and drain of energy, to worry about how it will come. It is already there. You have it already. It is in place. You just cannot see it!

You will be brought to it, or it will be brought to you.

Today, I will relax and trust that the good I need, will find me. Either through my leadings, or the leadings of others, all I want and need will come to me when the time is right.

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 22
Say how sweet it is

There’s so much talk about finding that extraordinary love of our life. Maybe everything we need to know about romantic love can be learned from our friends.

We don’t expect our friends to change our life and make everything that’s wrong,right. We just expect them to be who they are, and then we let them be that. It’s part of being a friend.

We don’t expect to like everything about our friends. We know they have defects of character. They do things occasionally that irritate us.

We don’t expect our friends to entertain and amuse us, keeping us laughing and smiling all the time. We let them go through their ups and downs. Sometimes we just sit in silence with our friends, and we each keep our thoughts to ourselves.

We don’t pick fights and create drama with our friends, just to keep passion alive. Usually we do everything we can to avoid fighting with our friends. We want our friendship to be a quiet, safe, peaceful place, a haven in our lives.

We don’t expect our friends to turn our lives upside down, distracting us from our path. Usually if a friend attempts to wreak havoc in our lives, we run the other way.

We wouldn’t let a friend hit us. And friends don’t talk mean. If an issue comes up, we usually carefully weigh the best way to talk about this issue with her or him.

We don’t expect friends to be in perfect health all the time. We know that they will have issues to deal with as they walk along their own paths. We encourage them. We pray for them. But we don’t take their issues as our own, and we don’t take it personally when they need some time to focus on their own personal growth.

In friendships, one person does not hold all the power. So despite the differences in our lives, we try to relate as equals.

We’re tolerant of cycles in our friendships, knowing that at different times, each person has different needs, different experiences to go through. Sometimes there’s more time and energy to devote to the friendships. Other times, there’s less.

We don’t expect our friends to be at our side twenty-four hours a day. We have our time together and value that, but then we each go our own way. We don’t try to force bonding with friends, or even force the relationship to be a friendship too fast. We let ourselves go through experiences together naturally, knowing that that’s how bonding takes place.

I’m not a expert on marital love, but we might have a better chance at finding love if we treated our lover like a friend.

God, help me find the middle ground between unrealistic expectations and no expectations at all. Help me cherish my relationships and not confuse heavy drama with romantic love.

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Today’s Gift
December 22

And the seasons, they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down We can’t return, we can only look Behind from where we came And go round and round and round in the circle game.
—Joni Mitchell

High in the mountains near Sun Valley, Idaho, is a small cabin. The cabin is always left open for hikers to rest and refresh themselves. There is food in the cabin and wood for a fire. Often, weary backpackers have arrived there, tired and thirsty, to find just the beverage or snack they needed to help them on their way. The cabin operates on a system of trust – if you use something in the cabin, you replace it with something else. Perhaps it is just the thing the next traveller needs to go on. It is a circle game.

We are all part of a big circle. If we give of ourselves or do a favor for someone, eventually – sometimes years later – someone will do something for us that will help us on our way. We do these little deeds without expecting to be rewarded, and we can accept others’ little gifts without feeling forever in someone’s debt. These unselfish acts, stored in our mountain cabin, stand ready for the next traveller.

What gift can I pass on to another today?

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 22

There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.
—Anonymous

Our lives can be like a battle between darkness and light. The darkness might be in our moods when we wake in the morning with feelings of despair. Then we can turn to the light of a prayer for openness: “God help me feel your love and acceptance.” The darkness is there when we are tempted to take advantage of a clerk who gives us too much change. Perhaps we tell ourselves, “Everyone does it, it won’t matter if I do.”

Then the light comes as we remember that this program demands rigorous honesty, and each choice for honesty promotes our growth. The darkness may be when someone we care about is hurt or in danger, and we think, “I have to step in to prevent bad things from happening.” Then we turn to our Higher Power for strength to stay in the relationship, but not control it.

Today, I can take a leap of faith by choosing an action and accepting that one small choice for the light makes a difference – even in all the darkness.

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Daily TAO
December 22
ATTACHMENT

The monk shaved his head as a symbol of renunciation.
But now he goes nowhere without his little cap.

It’s funny to see someone who says that he is a renunciate call childishly for his few meager possessions. Why renounce the world when you really cannot? Before you cut your hair, ask yourself if you can afford to give up your attachments. Before you give up your freedom, ask yourself if you can submit to monastic order. Before you say that you are spiritual, ask yourself if you can give up worldly desires.

I am not trying to make fun of monks here. I am observing that every path in life has its own sacrifices and its own hardships. Before you embark on a path, search yourself thoroughly and investigate the path completely. Then you will dispel misgivings. You will also reduce the chance of hypocrisy.

Whoever you are, live your life completely. If you are a plumber, be the best plumber. If you are a saint, be the best saint. If you are common, be common. If you are extraordinary, be extraordinary. People only err when they try to be who they are not.

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