Ten and Eleven

When I was new I heard the lady pastor of a new age church say our prayer-life is important, but equally important is our life-prayer. I cover both those bases when I am willing to practice Steps Ten and Eleven. I admit to running hot and cold on these steps. I use them most when the you-know-what is hitting the fan.

My practice of Step Eleven changed frequently throughout the years. Early on I recited the prayers in the book, but most of the time it felt like I had my fingers crossed behind my back. I didn’t really believe what I was saying. I finally settled on “please” in the morning and “thank you” at bed time. Just before closing my eyes at night, I say “thank you God for a wonderful day.” I say this prayer whether or not ego thinks the day has been wonderful. It seems to be working.

I always prayed alone. But a few months ago I began to pray with my wife. And you know what? I really like it. We lie in bed and just before we turn out the light, we hold hands and take turns praying out loud. We have slightly different conceptions of God, but it doesn’t seem to matter in the least.

I was a little embarrassed at first, but now I find I look forward to our prayer time. When it’s my turn, I just start talking to God. When I get stuck for something to say, I simply remember another thing I’m grateful for and go on. Our prayer time has brought us closer together than ever before.

I experimented with various forms of meditation and mindfulness. I read books and took classes, but never quite felt like I ever got the hang of it. These days walking alone in nature clears out the cobwebs for me. I’m grateful to be back in So Cal and the abundance of natural beauty. There is absolutely no nature in Shanghai, unless of course you include the pig farms on the outskirts of the city.

In the ‘70’s we used to say “whatever goes around, comes around.” Whatever I put out into the universe comes back to me as my living experience. I unknowingly pray for misery when I act like a jerk (my specialty), burn with a resentment, or point my finger of guilt at others on the planet.

Practicing Step Ten helps me stay aware of my life prayer. I heal when I am willing to focus the light of awareness on my thoughts, words and, especially, my deeds. Only then do I receive the whole package: sobriety, sanity and serenity. And life is pretty darn nice most of the time.