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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings – September 11, 2014

NA Just For Today
September 11, 2014
Bend With The Wind

“We learn to become flexible.. As new things are revealed, we feel renewed.”
Basic Text p.98

“Flexibility” was not a part of the vocabulary we used in our using days. We’d become obsessed with the raw pleasure of our drugs and hardened to all the softer, subtler, more infinitely varied pleasures of the world around us. Our disease had turned life itself into a constant threat of jails, institutions, and death, a threat against which we hardened ourselves all the more. In the end we became brittle. With the merest breath of life’s wind we crumbled at last, broken, defeated, with no choice but to surrender.

But the beautiful irony of recovery is that, in our surrender, we found the flexibility we had lost in our addiction, the very lack of which had defeated us. We regained the ability to bend in life’s breeze without breaking. When the wind blew, we felt its loving caress against our skin, where once we would have hardened ourselves as if against the onrush of a storm.

The winds of life blow new airs our way each moment, and with them new fragrances, new pleasures, varied, subtly different. As we bend with life’s wind, we feel and hear and touch and smell and taste all it has to offer us. And as new winds blow, we feel renewed.

Just for today: Higher Power, help me bend with life’s wind and glory in its passing. Free me from rigidity.

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Daily Reflections
September 11, 2014
MAKING AMENDS

Above all, we should try to be absolutely sure that we are not delaying because we are afraid.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 87

To have courage, to be unafraid, are gifts of my recovery. They empower me to ask for help and to go forth in making my amends with a sense of dignity and humility. Making amends may require a certain amount of honesty that I feel I lack, yet with the help of God and the wisdom of others, I can reach within and find the strength to act. My amends may be accepted, or they may not, but after they are completed I can walk with a sense of freedom and know that, for today, I am responsible.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
September 11, 2014
A.A. Thought For The Day

Continuing the answers to the question of how a person can live without liquor and be happy, we say: “You will be bound to the other A.A.s with new and wonderful ties, for you and they will escape disaster together and all will commence shoulder to shoulder the common journey to a better and more satisfactory life. You will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life. You will become happy, respected, and useful once more. Since these things have happened to us, they can happen to you.” Have these things happened to me?

Meditation For The Day

God manifests Himself in human lives as strength to overcome evil and power to resist temptation. The grace of God is that power which enables a human being to change from a useless, hopeless individual to a useful, normal person. God also manifests Himself as love–love for other people, compassion for their problems, and a real willingness to help them. The grace of God also manifests itself as peace of mind and serenity of character. We can have plenty of power, love, and serenity in our lives if we are willing to ask God for these things each day.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may see God’s grace in the strength I receive, the love I know, and the peace I have. I pray that I may be grateful for the things I have received through the grace of God.

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As Bill Sees It
September 11, 2014
“Look Before You Leap”?, p.253

“Wise men and women rightly give a top rating to the virtue of prudence. They know that without this all important attribute little wisdom is to be had.

“Mere ‘looking before we leap’ is not enough. If our looking is charged with fear, suspicion, or anger, we had better not have looked or acted at all.”

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“We lose the fear of making decisions, great and small, as we realize that should our choice prove wrong we can, if we will, learn from the experience. Should our decision be the right one, we can thank God for giving us the courage and the grace that caused us so to act.”

Letters, 1966

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Walk In Dry Places
September 11, 2014
With Whom are we Honest?
Honesty

“When you’re up before a judge, you can’t be honest with the court,” an AA member said, with some regret. “If you are, the judge will throw the book at you.”

This member was right in the sense that court-room disclosures must always be made with prudence. What’s more important is that we are always completely honest with ourselves and the close friends who serve as our sponsors. As for what is disclosed in a court situation, for example, we follow sound professional advice. Under no circumstances, of course, should we tell an outright lie, however.

Our practice of honesty also does not require us to tell every person we know about our alcoholism. We are entitled to our privacy as well as anonymity. Others, in turn, need not be burdened with complete knowledge about our lives.

Our Higher Power will guide us along honest paths once we’re committed to the program. We will know when and how to make the right disclosures about ourselves.

I’ll practice rigorous honest today. At the same time, I will be prudent in the way I disclose personal information.

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Keep It Simple
September 11, 2014

This above all: To thine own self be true.
—William Shakespeare

What does this saying mean: “To thine own self be true”? Hadn’t we thought only of ourselves before recovery? The answer is no. That wasn’t the real us. Each of us lost touch with our real self because of our addiction. We lost our goals, our feelings, our values. We chased the high. In this way, we lost our spirit. We became addicts.

With sobriety, we find ourselves again—and it feels great! We stop playing a role and become ourselves—and it’s wonderful. We follow our dreams and beliefs, not some addictive wild goose chase. We are again free to be ourselves. Thank you. Higher Power.

Prayer for the Day: Today, I pray to be myself, to know all of me. I can trust myself because my spirit is good.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll pray: “thine own self be true.”

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Each Day a New Beginning
September 11, 2014

I used to think I’d never know the difference between serenity and depression because depression subdued me.
—S.H.

Depression is familiar to us all, and less incapacitating than it used to be. We have made progress – we can be assured. “This too shall pass” is not an empty slogan.

Each of us can recall, with ease probably, a period we thought we’d never survive. Maybe our problem was family-related, or a tough on-the-job situation. Or maybe we felt inadequate and lacking in strength to cope with all situations. But we managed. Here we are today, taking charge of our lives and moving forward in search of serenity.

Serenity no doubt eludes us, again and again, throughout the day. But we can let our minds rest. We can give our thoughts to the wind, and serenity will find us. Serenity’s peace nurtures us, strengthens us to withstand the turmoil ahead. There is always turmoil ahead. Life’s lessons are found there. The irony is that a life with no problems doesn’t offer the opportunities we must have if we are to grow.

I will let the serene moments wash over me. I will cherish them. They soften me. And the blows of today’s tumultuous storm will be lessened.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
September 11, 2014
He Sold Himself Short

But he found there was a Higher Power that had more faith in him than he had to himself. Thus, A.A. was born in Chicago.

This was the beginning of five years of bouncing back and forth between my home in Chicago and Akron to sober up. It was a period of binges coming closer and closer together and being of longer duration. Once Dad came all the way to Florida to sober me up after a hotel manager called him and said that if he wanted to see me alive he’d better get there fast. My wife could not understand why I would sober up for Dad but not for her. They went into a huddle, and money away so that I could get no liquor and had to sober up.

p. 259

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
September 11, 2014

Tradition Two – “For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.”

Where does A.A. get its direction? Who runs it? This, too, is a puzzler for every friend and newcomer. When told that our Society has no president having authority to govern it, no treasurer who can compel the payment of any dues, no board of directors who can cast an erring member into outer darkness, when indeed no A.A. can give another a directive and enforce obedience, our friends gasp and exclaim, “This simply can’t be. There must be an angle somewhere.” These practical folk then read Tradition Two, and learn that the sole authority in A.A. is a loving God as He may express Himself in the group conscience. They dubiously ask an experienced A.A. member if this really works. The member, sane to all appearances, immediately answers, “Yes! It definitely does.” The friends mutter that this looks vague, nebulous, pretty naive to them. Then they commence to watch us with speculative eyes, pick up a fragment of A.A. history, and soon have the solid facts.

p. 132

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Xtra Thoughts
September 11, 2014

Few is the number of those who think with their own mind and feel with their own heart.
–Albert Einstein

“I think everybody has to experience a certain amount of pain on the way to maturity.”
–Ruth Casey

“The great mind knows the power of gentleness.”
–Robert Browning

God is guiding me in all my thoughts and plans and actions. I have given up all my struggling and self-defeating messages and have turned over all my thoughts to the power and energy of goodness and love.
–Ruth Fishel

Today, I will not run from myself, my circumstances, or feelings. I will be open to myself, others, my Higher Power, and life. I will trust that by facing today to the best of my ability, I will acquire the skills I need to face tomorrow.
–Melody Beattie

We do not possess our home, our children, or even our own body. They are only given to us for a short while to treat with care and respect.
–Jack Kornfield

“Two things are hard on the heart – running upstairs and running down people.”
–Unknown

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
September 11, 2014
THOUGHT

“To be able to be caught up in a world of thought — that is being educated.”
– Edith Hamilton

For years I didn’t think I reacted. Things happened and I felt I had to respond — but rarely was it a considered response. I had no program for my life. I was like a boat without a sail.

Today I think before I speak. I talk things over with a sponsor or friends before I make an important decision. I listen to the opinions of others before I make a choice. Today I am caught up in a world of thought and it isn’t simply my own. God knows my best thinking nearly killed me!

The world only makes sense because people share. It is the giving and receiving that makes life worthwhile. To be an island unto myself is isolation. I know what it was to be lonely. Today I desire a relationship of mind, body and feelings.

Let me find You in my neighbor and be sustained by the stranger.

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Bible Scriptures
September 11, 2014

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Ephesians 4:29

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
John 12:24

If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving “large or small” it will be used to measure what is given back to you.
Luke 6:38

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Daily Inspiration
September 11, 2014

The little moments of the day are as important in building our foundation as the impact of great events. Lord, thank You for my blessings and my crosses. Graciously bless me with the courage to grow closer to You with all that fills my day.

Never doubt the power, the wisdom and the love that God has for you. Lord, thank You for Your constant care and the certainty of Your love for me.

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A Day At A Time
September 11, 2014
Reflection For The Day

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One More Day
September 11, 2014

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One Day At A Time
September 11, 2014
The Present

“Real generosity towards the future consists in giving all to what is present.”
–Albert Camus

Fear ruled my life until two years ago. I was paralyzed with fear about the future and what would happen when “they” discovered how bad I really was and how little they could trust me. I was terrified that the past would catch up with me and I’d be found out. The guilt and shame of my last binge came along for the ride as I replayed the scene compulsively and beat myself up for screwing up yet again. This made it impossible for me to stay in the present.

In program I learned that I wasn’t really paralyzed by the past nor the future; rather, I was paralyzed by fear of losing control. The only way to release that fear was to admit, every hour of every day, that I was powerless over people, the past, the future and the food. When I wrote it down and put it in my God box, I could live in the present time. It was hard at first, and I’d grab it back when the fear crept in. But I’d let it go a little more each time, allowing me to be free of fear and enjoy moments of the day. The moments turned into hours and soon I was experiencing a full day without fear. The fear of the past and the future held less sway over me as I worked the Steps, surrendered my fears, and did service.

Service is the most important tool for me. The more service I do, the more I am fully alive in the present and I worry less about the past and the future. The peace and serenity that replaced the fear are blessed gifts allowing me to explore more of the present day. With them, I can honestly share myself with others and rebuild relationships. I now know the freedom of “giving all to what is present” and I pray for the willingness to stay in the present and be generous toward my future.

One day at a time…
I live fully in the present, easily and effortlessly surrendering the past and the future to my Higher Power.

~ Anne L.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – September 11

“Listen to all the teachers in the woods. Watch the trees, the animals, and all living things – you’ll learn more from them than from books.”
–Joe Coyhis, STOCKBRIDGE-MUNSEE

Nature is a living example of how communities live in harmony. If you go into the forest or mountain and sit still and watch, ask yourself, what lessons are being taught? Then watch how the animals conduct themselves. The trees could represent diversity. The flowers could represent people. Notice how everything in nature assists one another. See how balance works. See how conflict is handled. Can you see acts of forgiveness? Can you spot respect? Nature is full of wisdom if we will only consider her to be our teacher.

My Creator, today let me learn from nature.

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Journey To The Heart
September 11, 2014
Heal Your Fear of Abandonment

Some say the fear of abandonment is a universal fear. It’s common to most people in most places. It is that anguishing, heartbreaking moment when we believe someone is going to leave us. For many of us, the fear began when some important person did leave or abandon us– physically or emotionally. Now the very thought of it happening again terrifies us.

Although the fear may be universal, if we have it, it still belongs to us. It needs to be faced, felt, acknowledged, and released– it needs to be healed– or else it may control our lives and harm our relationships.

Sometimes we may fear being abandoned so much that we don’t want anyone to leave us– even people we don’t like– because it triggers that old familiar feeling. If we don’t deal with it, however, people can use it against us. All they have to do is threaten to leave and we crumble, acquiesce at the mere thought of feeling that way again.

Underneath the fear of abandonment another fear may lurk too, a deeper fear, the fear that somehow we’ve made the people we love go away. Sometimes in our lives, certain people have had to go away, because that is where their path led them. But if they felt confused, guilty, or uncertain about the leaving, they may have lied to us. They may have told us we did something wrong, we caused the separation, it was our fault they were leaving. And their lie became embedded in us.

Did someone tell that lie to you? Tell yourself something different. Tell yourself the truth. You don’t make people go away. You weren’t the cause. If someone needed to leave you, that was his or her choice.

Heal your fear of abandonment. Set yourself and others free.

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Today’s Gift
September 11, 2014

Good friendships are fragile things and require as much care as any other fragile and precious things.
—Randolph Bourne

A good friendship is like a flower garden. It needs attention and care. We start by preparing the soil and then planting our tiny seeds. Our friendships have foundations like the soil, and in them we plant seeds of trust and understanding.

Like a garden, friendships need care and love in order to thrive. We nourish friendships with visits, thoughtful favors, and trust. When we are feeling down or in need of help, a friendship can offer us more than just beauty.

When we work at our friendships, they are not seasonal but bloom in any weather, and they surround us with comfort and the knowledge that we have, and deserve, love.

How can I nurture a friendship today?

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The Language of Letting Go
September 11, 2014
Conflict and Detachment

In a relationship, there are those wonderful times when things go smoothly for both people, and neither person needs to focus too heavily on the concept of detachment. But there are those challenging times when one person is in crisis or changing – and we need to detach.

Then there are stressful cycles when both people in a relationship are in the midst of dealing with intense issues. Both are needy and neither has anything to give.

These are times when detachment and taking care of ourselves are difficult.

It is helpful, in these moments, to identify the problem. Both people are in the midst of dealing and healing. Neither has much to give, at least at the moment. And both are feeling particularly needy.

That is the problem.

What’s the solution?

There may not be a perfect solution. Detachment is still the key, but that can be difficult when we need support ourselves. In fact, the other person may be asking for support rather than offering it.

We can still work toward detachment. We can still work through our feelings. We can accept this as a temporary cycle in the relationship, and stop looking to the other person for something he or she cannot give at the moment.

We can stop expecting ourselves to give at the moment as well.

Communication helps. Identifying the problem and talking about it without blame or shame is a start. Figuring out alternative support systems, or ways to get our needs met, helps.

We are still responsible for taking care of ourselves – even when we are in the best of relationships. We can reasonably expect conflicts of need and the clashing of issues to occur in the most loving, healthy relationships.

It is one of the cycles of love, friendship, and family.

If it is a healthy relationship, the crisis will not go on endlessly. We will regain our balance. The other person will too. We can stop making ourselves so crazy by looking for the other person to be balanced when he or she isn’t.

Talk things out. Work things out. Keep our expectations of other people, our relationships, and ourselves healthy and reasonable.

A good relationship will be able to sustain and survive low points. Sometimes we need them, so we can both grow and learn separately.

Sometimes, people who are usually there for us cannot be there for us. We can find another way to take care of ourselves.

Today, I will remember that my best relationships have low points. If the low point is the norm, I may want to consider the desirability of the relationship. If the low point is a temporary cycle, I will practice understanding for myself and the other person. God, help me remember that the help and support I want and need does not come in the form of only one person. Help me be open to healthy options for taking care of myself, if any normal support system is not available.

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More Language Of Letting Go
September 11, 2014
Listen to yourself

In the Bible, God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” Learn to silence the chattering of your ego, whether through prayer, meditation, or a long walk in the park. Find that place where you can detach from the pressures of the world. Find that place where your body and spirit work together in harmony.

Being aware of your true self is the best way to free yourself from the controlling, manipulative behaviors of others. You don’t need the right car, the right girlfriend to be complete. All you really need is to be yourself.

Your spirit is the real you. Let it guide you.

Be still. Listen to your spirit say, I am, and I am enough.

In the silence, you’ll hear God.

God, help me be quiet so I can hear you.

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
September 11, 2014

A man can stand a lot as long as he can stand himself.
—Axel Munthe

Sometimes we’re mistaken about the source of our unhappiness. We walk around with a short fuse, ready to explode if anyone crosses our path. Then, when we do explode, we think it is the other person’s fault. At other times we have frightening physical reactions and worry that something is wrong with our bodies. But we are not aware that a deeper feeling of not being able to stand ourselves causes the problem.

Most of us have problems accepting ourselves. When we make peace with our consciences, some of our problems vanish. Other problems may never disappear, but our pain is eased because our inner battle has ceased and we have the energy we need to cope.

I am grateful for the gift of self-respect this program gives me.

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Daily TAO
September 11, 2014
CONUNDRUM

Which came first,
Experience or meaning?

When we were children, a favorite riddle used to be, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” This conundrum was so sticky that it stayed with us even into adulthood and became a cliché indicating any difficult situation of logic.

Maybe meaning in life is somewhat arbitrary. People go to work, and their work becomes part of the meaning to their lives. People marry and have a family and declare that these are the most important things to them. If they had taken different jobs, or if they had married a different person, or if they had renounced the world and had become nuns and monks, wouldn’t their lives have had different meanings?

And then we have the people for whom life dictated so many of their meanings : A person with physical deformities will have a much different life than one born healthy. Someone born into a wealthy, aristocratic family will obviously have a much different outlook than a beggar’s child. Someone born in Asia will look at life differently that someone born in Europe.

So which comes first, those who say that meaning comes from our definitions, or those who declare that our circumstances determine our meaning?

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Daily Zen
September 11, 2014

Inherent Knowledge

A primary aim of Zen is the uncovering of what is known as inherent knowledge. This is not the kind of knowledge that is produced by thinking based on conditioned consciousness. It is said that the ignorant are obstructed by ignorance, while intellectuals are obstructed by intellectual knowledge.

One way of getting past these obstacles and approaching inherent knowledge is to let go of whatever comes to mind.

– Muso Kokushi (1275-1351)

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Food For Thought
September 11, 2014
Praying Only…

In Step Eleven, we are “praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” How that simplifies our prayer! We do not have to worry about asking for the right things in the right way. We simply pray that we may know God’s will and be given the power to do it.

This Step is closely related to Step Three, since we are leaving the decisions up to God. He knows better than we what is best for us to have and to do. We make ourselves available to His direction without attaching conditions and clauses about what we will and will not do.

This kind of prayer frees us from much worry and anxiety. We accept abstinence as God’s will for us, since without abstinence we are powerless to do much of anything. Beyond that, we are prepared to live each day as our Higher Power gives it to us, trusting that He will show us His will and supply us with the power that we need.

This is my prayer, Lord.

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Faiths Checkbook
September 11, 2014
Sufferers Make Strong Believers

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
(Lamentations 3:27)

This is as good as a promise. It has been good, it is good, and it will be good for me to bear the yoke.

Early in life I had to feel the weight of conviction, and ever since it has proved a soul-enriching burden. Should I have loved the gospel so well had I not learned by deep experience the need of salvation by grace? Jabez was more honorable than his brethren because his mother bare him with sorrow, and those who suffer much in being born unto God make strong believers in sovereign grace.

The yoke of censure is an irksome one, but it prepares a man for future honor. He is not fit to be a leader who has not run the gauntlet of contempt. Praise intoxicates if it be not preceded by abuse. Men who rise to eminence without struggle usually fall into dishonor.

The yoke of affliction, disappointment, and excessive labor is by no means to be sought for; but when the Lord lays it on us in our youth, it frequently develops a character which glorifies God and blesses the church.

Come, my soul, bow thy neck; take up they cross. It was good for thee when young; it will not harm thee now. For Jesus’ sake, shoulder it carefully.

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This Mornings Reading
September 11, 2014

“Be ye separate.”
—2 Corinthians 6:17.

THE Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, “to live,” should be “Christ.” Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory. You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal. You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be “rich in faith,” and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of His presence, delighting in communion with Him, and seeking to know His will, you will prove that you are of heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master’s sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that thou art a son of the King of kings. Therefore, keep thyself unspotted from the world. Soil not the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial strings; let not these eyes become the windows of lust which are soon to see the King in His beauty—let not those feet be defiled in miry places, which are soon to walk the golden streets—let not those hearts be filled with pride and bitterness which are ere long to be filled with heaven, and to overflow with ecstatic joy.

Then rise my soul! and soar away, Above the thoughtless crowd; Above the pleasures of the gay, And splendours of the proud; Up where eternal beauties bloom, And pleasures all divine; Where wealth, that never can consume, And endless glories shine.

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This Evenings Reading
September 11, 2014

“Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies.”
—Psalms 5:8.

VERY bitter is the enmity of the world against the people of Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others, but they will magnify the most trivial offence in the followers of Jesus. Instead of vainly regretting this, let us turn it to account, and since so many are watching for our halting, let this be a special motive for walking very carefully before God. If we live carelessly, the lynx-eyed world will soon see it, and with its hundred tongues, it will spread the story, exaggerated and emblazoned by the zeal of slander. They will shout triumphantly. “Aha! So would we have it! See how these Christians act! They are hypocrites to a man.” Thus will much damage be done to the cause of Christ, and much insult offered to His name. The cross of Christ is in itself an offence to the world; let us take heed that we add no offence of our own. It is “to the Jews a stumblingblock”: let us mind that we put no stumblingblocks where there are enough already. “To the Greeks it is foolishness”: let us not add our folly to give point to the scorn with which the worldly-wise deride the gospel. How jealous should we be of ourselves! How rigid with our consciences! In the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best deeds, and impugn our motives where they cannot censure our actions, how circumspect should we be! Pilgrims travel as suspected persons through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under surveillance, but there are more spies than we reck of. The espionage is everywhere, at home and abroad. If we fall into the enemies’ hands we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf, or mercy from a fiend, than anything like patience with our infirmities from men who spice their infidelity towards God with scandals against His people. O Lord, lead us ever, lest our enemies trip us up!

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