I have come to realize that religion plays a bigger role than we all realize in modern Western society. Think about it, in the news, how often do we hear about controversies surrounding terrorism? In particular, we are constantly hearing about the stifling living conditions for women in the Middle East. These conditions originate from the tenets of Islam. To be honest, it is beyond my comprehension that an actual faith could justify the total suppression of women.
For me, I was born Catholic. I have my issues, even today, with the Catholic church. However, there are some aspects of it that I do appreciate. For example, I cherish the enthusiasm that Catholics demonstrate during the Easter Vigil. Moreover, I started thinking of this topic because of a compelling comment that someone made during an AA meeting I attended several years ago. I’ll never forget it.
A young man, about my age probably, was talking about how he knew a young woman who had just given birth. She was recently married, and she wanted her entire family to start going to church, so they did. This young man had mixed feelings about religion himself, like so many of us do. I think it’s because we think that witheverything we’ve been through, how could there possibly be a God that exists somewhere? Well this man had this little epiphany thinking about this young woman. He explained how he proceeded to question himself. How does it make sense for him to question her choice to go to church? She seems to be doing okay in life! Even I thought like he did too at one point in my life. I was very cynical and discouraged. However, with more recovery time under my belt, I’ve come to realize that long before the drugs and alcohol happened, I was still an addict-in-training. I hadn’t ever really surrendered to God. I wasn’t availing myself to communication with God. I memorized my “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” “Nicene Creed,” and I was an altar boy for 11 years. I thought I was scoring big in Mr. God’s grade book. It wasn’t until my addiction, ironically enough, that I realized that it doesn’t and it never worked that way, and I was doing it all wrong.
Spirituality is not just some new aspect that you build into your life. No, not at all. It is about the love you have for Source, which creates the love you have for everything else, whether it be fellow human beings, the Earth, or even yourself. Remember to live by the will of Source.
While attending an AA meeting roughly seven years ago, a fellow member had inspired me to write my own prayers. It was such a beautiful idea. When she told me that she was writing her own prayers, as a way to enhance personal rehabilitation, I thought that it was a stroke of genius. It was also during a time when I really felt like my entire prayer life was close to non-existent.
I don’t believe that you must drop to your knees from bed to pray every single morning in order to be a “good” little spiritual person. We know there is no such thing as this. With praying, you don’t have to necessarily kneel bedside with your hands crossed and your head facing down in order to be deemed good. I’ve learned, on my path to a life of recovery, that it really is about the journey and everything we do (and create) while on that path. I believe that if we make an honest effort to silently recite prayers in our heads during the day, for example, then that means we were maintaining our prayer lives. We would know it deep down inside of ourselves.
So, without further ado, this is the first prayer I ever wrote for myself.
God, please watch over me As I enter into this pursuit.
I pray That the experience Will teach me, intrigue me, but most of all, I pray that the experience Will prove a journey worthwhile-
A benchmark for strength.
And so the opportunity that comes
Reflects the light of a spark,
Imbued by the wands of a dream
And I shall never ever forget That by the end of it all, Thy will be done.
I want to start including some of my journal entries from over the years, as I think it can be very healing and beneficial to honor the past, for the sake of growth and learning.
From January 22, 2015
I’m about to attend a wake for a cousin by marriage who just passed this week. I really just, I cannot even fathom his death. I have to share a quick run-down of the story surrounding his death because it is so shocking. During the first week of December, we found out that he was experiencing some worsening back pain. Painful, yes, but just back pain. One night, the 6th, to be exact, he went into the ER. After doing an X-ray, doctors saw he actually had a very large tumor in/around/near his spinal cord (that part I’m still not very sure of). A couple days after the 6th of December, bear in mind, he was officially diagnosed with Stage 4 advanced cancer that had basically invaded almost every major organ in his body. And, what, six weeks later, he’s gone. He’s left behind a wife of over eight years and a two-year old daughter. This is so heartbreaking.
I cannot even fathom this. I’m blown away, still. When I get to where the wake is in a little bit, I am sure I’ll be a little bit nervous to see his wife, my cousin. I always feel a little worried in situations like this. I know many people do; it probably sounds trite. I think, even though we’re all human beings and we all communicate in the same tongue, basically, the more emotion that an event asks of us, the harder it seems. I suppose it all comes down to the fact that we human beings love pride and, as a result of this mindset, we don’t like to appear vulnerable — even at a wake sometimes. Nonetheless, I’m going to say hello to his wife, hug her, kiss her, and just be that extra body with a fresh set of shoulders for her to cry on should she need them. It may sound trite, but I certainly don’t think that I need to have some magical, poetic statement stashed up in my brain, ready to whisper to her. I just need to be there, for her, and for him.